On Nov. 13, the Ethics Bowl team won the Wasatch Regional Ethics Bowl competition against Westminster.
The Wasatach Bowl is one of 10 regional competitions in the United States. Teams who win regional bowls are invited to attend the Intercollegiate National Ethics Bowl competition that will be hosted in Cincinnati this March.
“I feel like we were prepared really well,” said Lauren Hill, team member. “We had the strongest arguments, and I think our team was prepared way more than the other teams.”
This semester’s team was made up of seven students: Michael Hetzel, Lauren Hill, Alec McCullough, Ryan Nielsen, Kristen Stirling, Kenzie Webb and Zac Whitmore. Five of these students have been on the Ethics Bowl team before, but none of them have won the Regional competition. This semester’s team was coached by Jeffrey Nielsen, an adjunct professor of Philosophy and Humanities. Zackary Weber functioned as an assistant coach and mentor.
“We had a really strong first three rounds,” said Ryan Nielsen, who has been on the Ethics Bowl team twice before. “But honestly, for me the funnest part is the team … I like the class time, preparing and critiquing your arguments – that is the best part.”
While all students on the team said that the competition was tough, they all agreed that it was fun.
“Most of the students I have seen participate in Ethics Bowl say it is one of the high points in their college education,” said Dr. Karen Mizell, professor of Philosophy and Humanities. She noted that students not only build friendships with their teammates, but it is also a fabulous opportunity for those looking to get into graduate or law schools.
Though students have been studying various ethical theories since the beginning of the semester, they did not receive the cases they would be arguing until early September. For the last month, students have been applying the theories they learned on the relevant and real-world cases they were given.
Cases included issues like a Spanish ban on bullfighting, CGI child pornography, wildlife protection across national borders, coal-fueled development, Facebook privacy and compulsory voting laws.
Students are judged on their clarity and intelligibility, focus on the ethically relevant factors, avoidance of ethical irrelevance and deliberative thoughtfulness.
Students competed in four rounds against the University of Utah, Utah State University, Weber State University, Westminster College and Salt Lake Community College.
“As far as an experience to develop critical thinking skills, there is nothing better than Ethics Bowl,” said Alec McCullough, who has been on the Ethics Bowl team once before.
Students are hoping that the university can procure funding to send their team, coach and assistant coach to Cincinnati for the national competition this spring.
“The Ethics Bowl is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn how to be morally responsible persons in a complex world,” said Nielsen, the team’s coach. “I believe it is the best preparation for moral reasoning in their future careers as business leaders, political representatives, lawyers and teachers.”