Student teams compete by presenting a position related to a real-world ethical case, with an emphasis on economics and public policy decision-making. In the Ethics Bowl, participants are not assigned opposing views as in a traditional debate; instead the competition depends on how thoughtfully teams have examined their case and how clearly they can state their position. Teams choose from a list of 15 cases compiled by the National High School Ethics Bowl. (Three teams competed in a Collegiate Ethics Bowl on Nov. 17. Three members of the winning team and two MVPs from the two other teams make up the School’s five-member state squad. Two alternates will also be on hand.)
Collegiate senior Nichole Gould has found the Capstone class and Ethics Bowl experience to be an interesting and thought-provoking one.
“I’ve learned how to question my beliefs,” she said. “It makes you think about why you think the way you do.”
Senior Capstone coordinator Rhiannon Boyd participated in similar competitions in college, coached teams and judged, moderated and organized events. She created Collegiate’s Ethics Bowl in 2009 because she recognized the value in giving students the chance to trade ideas and perspectives with other high schoolers.
“Alongside our peers, we should consider the challenges of the world, question our own principles and reason, listen to others for understanding and be willing to change our minds when there's good reason to do so,” she said.
Collegiate senior Steele Viverette was eager to learn from the other high school students.
“I’m interested to hear their takes on the cases,” he said.
Mrs. Boyd coordinated the first statewide high school ethics bowl in 2015, and welcomes the opportunity for students to engage in the difficult work of citizenship — wrestling with hard questions of how we should live, how to make decisions in a diverse society, what the proper role of government should be and how business and human interests impact our choices.
“Ethics Bowls give students the platform to practice the skills necessary for this work — questioning, listening deeply, considering multiple perspectives, developing sound arguments in collaboration with others and responding to new ideas in real time,” she said. “It challenges them to develop and articulate their own ideas, not assigned pro and con positions, not merely for the sake of argumentation, but for the sake of understanding.”
Collegiate senior Zach Bostic said he looks forward to seeing how the Cougar team will perform at the state competition, but he is not focused on the end result.
“Competitivity is good,” he said, “but I’m looking to learn rather than conquer.”
The winning team will head to the National High School Ethics Bowl at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on April 20-22, 2018.
For more about the Ethics Bowl, click here.