Competitive and collaborative ethical consensus

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Alana Galloway ’16

Convent of the Sacred Heart Upper School Theology Teacher Mrs. Kerry Bader recently established the first Ethics Bowl team in Connecticut to enhance students’ understanding of and appreciation for ethics and moral philosophy.
An Ethics Bowl is a national competition coordinated by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Beginning in 2008, the National High School Ethics Bowl (NHSEB) sought to promote collaboration and ethics awareness among high school students. The tournaments have exponentially gained attention and popularity since their establishment.
“I had heard about the Ethics Bowl a few years ago and have been interested in starting a team ever since,” Mrs. Bader said. “I decided to do it this year because I thought I would have enough time to devote to the project.”
In order to qualify for the National High School Ethics Bowl, teams must first participate in regional competitions. The closest Regional Bowl is in Long Island, so Mrs. Bader hopes Sacred Heart will host the first Connecticut Region Ethics Bowl.
The Sacred Heart team consists of 32 Upper School students who gathered for their first meeting January 22. Currently, the team is only open to juniors in Mrs. Bader’s Ethics, Morality and Social Justice course. However, the team will include both juniors and seniors in the years to come. Mrs. Bader is currently leading the group, since she has not yet chosen captains.

Alana Galloway '16
Alana Galloway ’16

“I think it’s great that Mrs. Bader decided to make an Ethics Bowl team,” junior and Ethics Bowl team member Madison Miles said. “I really enjoy discussing ethics, morality, and philosophy in class, and I think being on the team is a great experience to participate in more discussions like this.”
The team is scheduled to meet once per cycle, either during break on Day 6 or during lunch on Day 8, in preparation for official Ethics Bowls.
According to nhseb.unc.edu, the competitions are “collaborative yet competitive events in which teams analyze a series of wide-ranging ethical dilemmas.”
Unlike Speech and Debate and Model United Nations competitions, which require students to argue individually or in small groups, Ethics Bowl events require team members to work together. Students are expected to collaborate and contribute ideas until they reach a conclusion. Although multiple teams compete against each other, they do not have to choose opposing sides of an argument, and can choose to advocate similar viewpoints.
According to nhseb.unc.edu, “teams are coached to not think in terms of ‘beating’ the other team by out-arguing their opponents.” 
The Ethics Bowl practice and regional competition season will begin in the fall, with national competitions taking place in the spring. The Sacred Heart team looks forward to competing during the 2015-2016 school year.
“I feel like our school has an advantage because we take ethics as a class, so we have already spent a full year discussing morality and a lot of philosophical theories,” junior and Ethics Bowl team member Tracey Hagan said. “It will definitely be interesting to compete in Ethics Bowls as opposed to the friendly discussions we have in class, but I am really excited to try it.” 
Mrs. Bader plans to have the team participate in the Applied Ethics category, which requires teams to analyze decisive issues in society in terms of underlying ethical principles and theories. Juniors spend the entire year studying these principles and use them to examine current, past, and possible events.
“My goal is for the team to grow and to be successful in the competition,” Mrs. Bader said. “I hope that the students who participate become more comfortable in discussing complex issues.”
– Alana Galloway, Co-Features Editor