Hundreds of students in teams across the United States and Canada compete in one of 10 Regional Ethics Bowl competitions each fall. The teams argue and defend their moral assessment of some of the most troubling and complex ethical issues facing society today. Questions address a wide array of topics in business and professional ethics, in personal relationships, and in social and political affairs.
The competition focuses on selected cases developed by APPE ethics faculty, researchers, and professionals; covering a wide range of disciplines, including but not limited to, business, engineering, journalism, law, medicine, and social work. In the competitions students demonstrate their ability to (1) understand the facts of the case, (2) articulate the ethical principles involved in the case, (3) present an effective argument on how the case should be resolved, and (4) respond effectively to challenges put forth by the opposing team as well as the panel of expert judges.
Former Ethics Bowl students consider this one of their most important college activities and one that they carry forward into their professional and personal lives.
Preparation for the event begins about 2 months in advance of the competition and requires intellectual acuity, a high level of motivation, and skills of abstract as well as practical reasoning. The IU team meets twice a week for about 2 1/2 hours each session to discuss the cases and prepare for the bowl. The IU team has traditionally drawn from a variety of schools and programs across campus, e.g., students in Philosophy, Political Science, Religious Studies, English, LAMP, and Classics in the College of Arts and Sciences, along with students from the Kelley School of Business and the School of Journalism. Students routinely describe participation on the team as the capstone experience of their education at IU. In the annual competition the IU team is typically considered as one of the powerhouses.
To qualify for the national competition, each team must first participate in one of ten regional matches. IU participates in the Central States regional on November 9. The regional includes three matches, where one team responds to a question about a case they have already studied. The second team responds to the first team's presentation, the first team responds to the second team, and then the judges ask questions of team one. In the second half of the match, the second team answers a question about a different case, and the process is repeated.