Students place in USC Neely Center Ethics Competition

Five students placed in USC Neely Center for Ethical Leadership and Decision Making’s inaugural Student Ethics Competition, themed “Towards an Ethically Sensitive Society,” on Friday. Graduate student Jacqueline Orr received first place followed by graduate student David Newman and sophomore Fiona Sequeira who tied for second and graduate students Rashi Chaudhary and Kermit Franklin who tied for third.

The competition gave 27 students the opportunity to present their ideas regarding ethics and decision-making to faculty members from the Marshall School of Business, Viterbi School of Engineering and Price School of Public Policy. Throughout the competition, faculty helped discuss ethical dilemmas with the students and advance their proposals.

“When you look at today’s issues, such as the Facebook [and Cambridge Analytica] scandal, it’s apparent decisions on ethics crosses many fields and we felt it was necessary for our campus to discuss these issues,” said Ali Abbas, Neely Center director. “That is part of the mission of the Neely Center.”

The committee that decided on the winners of this year’s competition evaluated the students’ proposals based on the significance of the topic, the exclamation of ethical dilemma in the stakeholders, the use of ethical methodology and the overall presentation.

Sequeira, a sophomore majoring in business administration, won second place and was the only undergraduate student to place in the competition.

“After the competition … professor Ali Abbas personally reached out to me and told me to be proud of my work given my age, as it sparked a lot of conversation and got a lot of people thinking,” Sequeira said.

Sequeira’s proposal “Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis: A Procreative Right or Responsibility?” argued that given that the capabilities of the latest genetic enhancement technologies, such as PGD, which can improve in coming years, the ethical questions surrounding the procedure are increasingly relevant. According to Sequeira, these answers will set important policy precedents.

“Making decisions and developing policies informed by ethics is essential in any area, from business to health care to the technology industry, and this competition supported my goal of wanting to hone my skills as a leader who is able to effect change in the world through ethical decisions,” Sequeira said.

Many of the students who placed in the competition plan to continue developing their proposals. Orr plans to further her work from the competition, “Driving the Future: Carmakers’ Quandary with Automated Vehicle,” with a case study in the Harvard Business Review.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to participate in the Neely Center competition, and I am honored to have won,” Orr said. “It was particularly meaningful to interact with students and professors across many different disciplines to address a variety of critical ethical issues. I look forward to following the Neely Center’s important work in this area in the future.”

Editor’s Notes: Fiona Sequeira is a Daily Trojan staff writer.