WMU competes in regional Ethics Bowl competition

The Western Michigan University Ethics Bowl team competed Dec. 3 in the Upper Midwest Regional Ethics Bowl at Harper College in Palatine, Illinois, north of Chicago.

The team finished 1-3 after competing against Saginaw Valley, Loyola, Illinois Institute of Technology and eventual qualifier Northwestern. The other schools qualifying for the national championship Feb. 26 in Dallas, Texas, were Macalester, Milikin and Ripon.

WMU team members were: Sean Mattice, a senior majoring in Communication Studies; Ontario McDonald, a sophomore majoring in Multimedia Arts Technology; Justin Vitez, a sophomore majoring in Business; Antanas “Tony” Sukys, a junior majoring in Biomedical Sciences; and Daniel Rauch, a junior majoring in Film and Media Studies.

Sandra L. Borden, Professor of Communication and Director of WMU’s Center for the Study of Ethics in Society, is the team’s faculty sponsor and coached the students, along with Keagan Potts, an M.A. student in philosophy.

The Ethics Bowl competition is sponsored by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, an international association dedicated to interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching in ethics.

Nineteen institutions from Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, Minnesota and Mississippi fielded 26 teams in the regional competition.

The teams received 12 case studies in September involving ethical issues in a number of practical contexts, including engineering, law, medicine, personal relationships, school, and politics. They met twice a week to prepare positions on the ethical issues presented by the cases. During a round of competition, each team takes turns presenting its ethical position on a case and critiquing another team’s position on a different case. Teams must answer questions about their positions from a panel of judges. Judges assign scores based on logical consistency, clarity, focus and thoroughness.

 “This was the most competitive regional ever,” Borden said. “Our students worked well together and presented strong arguments. The competition modeled what it means to have informed and thoughtful discussions about difficult issues with respect and civility.”

WMU has competed in the Ethics Bowl contest every year since it expanded from an intramural event at the Illinois Institute of Technology to a small regional contest involving a handful of colleges in 1994 (an event WMU won). Ethics Bowl now involves more than 100 schools from around the country that compete in regional qualifiers every fall to be among the 42 chosen to compete in the national championship each spring.

WMU was the regional champion in 2006 and 2007 and placed in the top 10 nationally in 1998, 2000, 2008 and 2009. The team is sponsored by the Center for the Study of Ethics and Society.

For more information, contact Dr. Borden.