OU Ethics Bowl goes national

With their thinking caps all squared away, philosophy students are heading to the National Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl Competition.

On Saturday, Nov. 18, a total of 25 teams from 17 universities competed in the Upper Midwest Regional Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl event held at Oakland University.

One of OU’s Ethics Bowl teams placed in second, earning a place at the national competition with 36 other teams.

During the competition, Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl creates a competitive spirit through ethical discussion.

“OU Ethics Bowl is a class that prepared ethical debates throughout the semester prior to our regional competition, which was hosted by OU this year,” said Gabrielle Bruno, the current president of Ethics Bowl. “The topics vary quite a bit, but cover current ethical issues in our society.”

This year, some cases outlined issues with Keystone pipeline, intersex athletes in the Olympics and the responsibilities of journalists.

“Teams present their positions on case studies provided by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE),” said Lisa Campbell, Ethics Bowl coach and special lecturer in communication and philosophy. “A trio of judges then evaluate those positions’ content and ethical choices.”

Regional competition is composed of four rounds, each involving two teams and two case studies. Each round lasts approximately 90 minutes. This year, OU has yet to lose a match.

Oakland has had an Ethics Bowl team since 2003 and expanded to two teams in 2013. There are currently 11 members on the Ethics Bowl between the two teams.

The Department of Philosophy offers a class, PHL 3910, so students can earn academic credit for their participation on the Ethics Bowl team.

“Our class meets bi-weekly, researching and preparing philosophical arguments to identifying moral issues for each of the 12 cases,” Bruno said. “We have two coaches, Lisa Campbell and Mark Rigstad, who help advise members on their philosophical arguments and public speaking.”

Competitive tryouts are held in early March for new members.

“Any student may audition and all fields are welcome,” Campbell said. “Past teams have included students from majors such as philosophy, pre-med, political science, sociology, anthropology, communication, medical technologies, business and others.”

OU’s nationals-bound team will receive 15 new case studies on Jan. 3. A team of five students, the team that qualified for nationals, will research, debate and determine their positions on each of these cases in preparation. Only 12 of the 15 will be used, but no one knows which ones until the round begins.

“Typically, OU has 10 weeks to prepare 12 cases for regionals, so 15 cases in 7-1/2 weeks is a greater challenge,” Campbell said.

Nationals is part of the annual National Conference for the APPE, and OU students will attend the conference as well.

“Forums on business, medical, military, government and media ethics will be presented for two days prior to the competition,” Campbell said.

This year’s competition and meeting will be held in Chicago the weekend of March 3 and 4.

“Our members are from all different backgrounds, which allows our arguments to consider multiple perspectives,” Bruno said. “The class is a wonderful opportunity to increase awareness to various issues in society, consider different perspectives, deepen understanding of philosophical theory and improve public speaking.”