Ethics Initiatives

Ethics Case Writing Project


Any middle or high school student from any country can participate in PLATO’s student ethics case writing project. 

The purpose of the project is to develop an open-access library of case studies focusing on ethical dilemmas relevant to middle and high school students that can be used in middle and high school classrooms and other ethics forums.

Accepted cases are published on PLATO’s website, with credit to the writers. Writers of accepted cases will also receive a one-year PLATO membership.

All published cases become the property of PLATO.

Case Library

  1. Are Private Schools Inherently Unethical?
    • Melina Mickelson, age 14
      Cleveland STEM High School, Seattle, Washington
  2. Relying on Civilian Intelligence in the Russo-Ukrainian War
    • Zachary Lin, age 17
      Huron High School, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  3. Should We Watch True Crime Dramas?
    • Claire Cherrill, age 15
      Kent Place School, Summit, New Jersey
  4. The Ethics of Using Facial Recognition Technology
    • Jennifer Tang, age 15
      Huron High School, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  5. Evaluating Historical Figures Through a Contemporary Lens 
    • Joonyoung Heo, age 16
      Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire
  6. Should Artists’ Ethics Affect Our Artistic Judgments?
    • Nikki Gao, age 16
      Academy at Palumbo, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  7. Is Euthanasia Ethical? 
    • Mason Cheng, age 17
      American Heritage Broward, Plantation, Florida
  8. The Benefits and Harms of Gene Editing
    • Prudence Frein, age 16
      Haverford High School, Havertown, Pennsylvania
  9. Honesty v. Loyalty Among Friends
    • Sophia Galova, age 18
      Langley High School, Langley, Virginia
  10. Respect for the Dead: Displaying Human Remains in a Museum
    • AKW, age 16
      Ballard High School, Seattle, Washington
  11. Should the Military Recruit in Schools?
    • AKW, age 16
      Ballard High School, Seattle, Washington
  12. Informed Consent in Survey Research
    • Daliya Rizvi, age 18
      Langley High School, Langley, Virginia
  13. Using AI in the Classroom
    • Avi Skuben, age 13
      Astra Nova School
  14. The Ethics of Tipping
    • Mason Cheng, age 17
      American Heritage, Plantation, Florida
  15. Defacing Art as a Form of Protest
    • Claire Cherrill, age 15
      Kent Place School, Summit, New Jersey

Guidelines for Submissions

Guidelines: Each case should focus on an ethical issue, current or perennial, relevant to middle and/or high school students. The case must consider the ethical issue from at least two viewpoints presented fully and generously, so that the complexity of the case is made clear. Each case must include 3-4 discussion questions for students analyzing the case.

Length: 300-500 words

Sample case:Standing for the National Anthem.”

Authorship: Cases can be written by individuals or a group of students (all contributors will be credited).

Submission Limit: Students may submit up to two cases.

Judging Criteria and Deadline

All submissions are anonymously reviewed by a committee of judges according to the following criteria:

  • Does the case clearly articulate the ethical issue and its ethical complications?
  • Does the case explicitly consider at least two viewpoints in a balanced way?
  • Is the case well-written and clearly organized?

DEADLINE FOR 2024 SUBMISSIONS: August 31, 2024

Submit Your Case Here

    Philosophy Across the Ages


    PLATO regularly runs intergenerational philosophy events, with a focus on ethics. These include programs for students and family members (example here), seniors and young people (example here), and high school and undergraduate students.

    PLATO’s Philosophy Across the Ages program was inspired by the Maine outreach program of the same name created by philosophy professor Kirsten Jacobson. The Orono-based program has brought together high school students, undergraduates, and, when possible, retirement community members, to engage in biweekly seminar-style discussions of philosophical texts.

    Philosophy is for everyone. We provide resources and opportunities for people of all ages and walks of life to engage together with some of life’s deepest questions. In a world that is increasingly spatially and socially segregated by age, it is more important than ever to talk to each other across generations. 

    The structure for PLATO’s events begins with a brief description of PLATO and philosophy with young people. We then introduce a prompt that is appropriate for a wide variety of age groups and provokes philosophical thinking, usually about a difficult ethics question. Following the prompt, we facilitate a discussion in much the same way we do in classrooms around the country — first in small, mixed-age groups with a discussion leader, and then in a whole group conversation.

    These programs empower families, students, seniors, and other participants to engage philosophically outside of classrooms and provide an opportunity for participants to expand their awareness about the perspectives of other generations. 

    These events are free, open to the public, and located in accessible community locations (such as libraries, universities, and public schools).

    For more information, contact

    How to Run an Event

    How to Organize an Intergenerational Philosophy Event:
    • Think about what groups you would like to have in conversation with one another. Some possibilities include:
      • Retirees and high school students
      • K-12 students and parents and/or grandparents
      • High school students with K-5 students
    • Find and partner with local groups who serve these populations. For example:
      • Retirement/elder care facilities
      • Local organizations for retired people
      • Local K-12 schools
      • Religious communities
      • Philosophy clubs at middle and high schools
      • Ethics bowl teams at local middle and high schools
    • Select a location that is convenient for most people who will participate.
      • Public libraries
      • Public schools
      • Community centers
      • Senior centers
      • Someplace with easy parking, transit access, and that is accessible for people with disabilities
    • Find volunteers familiar with facilitating communities of philosophical inquiry to lead small groups
      • Ideally, you want one volunteer per table of 6-8 participants so that someone can help guide and facilitate the conversation at the tables.
    • Choose someone to be the lead facilitator for the event.
      • This should be someone with significant experience leading communities of philosophical inquiry.
    • Choose the prompt for your discussion.
      • Ethics Bowl cases (excellent for intergenerational philosophy sessions with older students and adults)
      • Picture books
      • Songs, poems, art, activities, etc.
      • For inspiration, see the PLATO Toolkit and Literature Library
    • On the day of the event:
      • Pre-arrange who will sit at each table group. Make sure to have a good balance of participants from each age range.
      • Have name tags for participants.
      • Serve some light snacks/beverages.
      • Have available for everyone copies of the prompt, if applicable.
    • At the event:
      • The lead facilitator welcomes everyone and gives an overall description of the event plan and goals.
      • The lead facilitator (or someone else) reads the prompt aloud.
      • Each table is then asked to spend the next 30-40 minutes discussing the prompt and the questions it raises for the participants.
      • The lead facilitator walks around the room monitoring how each table is doing, offering ideas and questions where helpful.
      • The group comes back together for a whole group discussion, led by the lead facilitator.


    Suggestions for a successful event:
    • Choose your prompt carefully.
      • You want something that can generate discussion across generations, so the prompt needs to be something to which both groups can connect. For example, social media ethics might not work for a group consisting of high school students and retirees.
    • Set clear expectations of how to do philosophy together.
      • The goal is a discussion, not telling people how they should think or trying to teach them about the topic.
      • Listen carefully, share ideas respectfully, ask for clarification when necessary.
      • Discuss in the spirit of curiosity and wonder.
      • All participants have something valuable to contribute whether they are 5 years old or 80 years old.
    • It’s best to have a person trained in facilitating communities of philosophical inquiry sitting with each group of participants. These volunteers help guide the conversation and gently redirect participants who may dominate the discussion, try to “educate” others out of a perceived misunderstanding, or hastily dismiss others’ ideas.

    • Do a wrap up at the end, summarizing what was discussed, where the conversation went, and offering people a question or thought to take with them as they leave.

    What is the Ethics Bowl?

    Ethics Bowl

    Created nearly thirty years ago in a college classroom by philosophy professor  Robert Ladenson, the Ethics Bowl now involves thousands of students across the country and the world. Ethics Bowl is a collaborative yet competitive event, similar to debate but different. Teams do not take adversarial positions but rather work together to analyze and clarify ethical issues. Ethics Bowl prepares students to appreciate the virtues of living in a deliberative democracy and nurtures habits of mind that strengthen local, national, and global citizenship.

    Teams of students are presented with a series of wide-ranging ethical dilemmas, and they prepare responses to the cases in advance. During the Bowl, teams are judged on the quality and depth of their ethical and practical reasoning, including their ability to present coherent arguments and recognize and consider likely objections to those arguments. Teams are also evaluated on their ability to engage in ethical discussion while maintaining a collegial, respectful tone.

    “The Ethics Bowl has prepared me to go into a conversation ready to have my mind changed.”
    – Seattle high school student

    Ethics Bowl Programs

    “I think exposure to ethical problem solving makes for wiser, more thoughtful and civic minded teens.”
    – Parent of High School Ethics Bowl student