A disaster destroyed civilization.

Four Fulbright College faculty members must justify why their academic discipline is crucial to society and why they should get a seat on the “life raft” in a post-apocalyptic world.

The second annual Life Raft Debate took place Oct. 14, 2015 in Giffels Auditorium, and after an hour of debating, students voted biology professor Ralph Henry, the winner.

Henry’s competitors were professors Paul Adams for chemistry, Lisette Lopez Szwydky for English and Allesandro Broggi for history. Theatre professor Michael Riha was also slated to attend, but was unable to at the last minute due to bronchitis.

“As a biologist, I have studied the chemical and physical processes that enable humans and other living organisms to acquire the nourishment, grow, reproduce, adapt to change in our physical surroundings and even repair damage,” argued Henry in his opening statement. “I think the question is, can you reestablish society without the knowledge that I bring as a biologist?”

Henry graciously accepted his win, but also noted that society would in fact need all of his colleagues’ disciplines to truly thrive.

The debate consisted of three rounds: opening statements, faculty and audience questions and closing statements. This is the second year that the department of biology has won the Life Raft Debate.

The event was sponsored by University Housing and the J. William Fulbright College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Szwydky helped organize the event in addition to participating.

“This debate is a playful and smart way to introduce the deep value of a liberal arts education,” Lopez Szwydky said.

The Life Raft Debate is a tradition at several schools across the nation, beginning at the University of Montevallo 16 years ago as a way to promote the study of liberal arts.