As a graduate teaching assistant at Loyola I have had the privilege of coaching the ethics bowl and bioethics bowl teams for several years now. The Ethics Bowl and its cousin, the Bioethics Bowl, are debate style competitions in which groups of 5 students compete against one another by advancing ethical arguments that aim to solve some ethical dilemma introduced by a case narrative. Unlike a debate competition, though, where teams must take contrary positions, ethics bowl teams need not fundamentally disagree, but rather, over the course of a match students can instead offer clarifying questions or useful modifications to the opposing team’s argument. Thus, at its best, the ethics bowl has a dialectical quality that allows undergraduate students to carefully work through difficult ethical issues by first taking a clear position and then modifying it following feedback from the opposing team.
I have especially enjoyed coaching the ethics bowl and bioethics bowl teams both because I think the ethics bowl format is a great way to work through ethical issues in a dynamic manner and because each year I have been able to work with a great group of students that is excited by difficult ethical questions and willing to put in the time to research and prepare for competitions. Some of my accomplishments while serving as the coach of the ethics bowl and bioethics bowl team include
> Bioethics Bowl team achieved a semi-final finish at the National Bioethics Bowl Competition at Georgetown University, 2013
> Ethics Bowl team amongst the top eight teams in the country at the National Ethics Bowl Competition in San Antonio, 2013
> Helped to coordinate and host a regional Ethics Bowl competition at Loyola University Chicago in 2012
> Ethics Bowl Team was undefeated at the 2011 Regional Ethics Bowl Competition
> Bioethics Bowl team achieved a semi-final finish at the 2011 National Bioethics Bowl Competition
> Ethics Bowl team achieved a quarterfinal finish at the 2011 National Ethics Bowl Competition
Each year I learn more about how to better prepare students for these competitions and to teach relevant skills of ethical reasoning, and I hope that I can be part of or help to start an ethics bowl program at any future educational institutions that I might be a part of.
For more information about the Ethics Bowl, check out the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics’ website (http://appe.indiana.edu/ethics-bowl/ethics-bowl/)