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Deadline approaches to apply for Ethics Bowl Team

by Mark Schwerin

April 1, 2011 | WMU News

KALAMAZOO--Students looking for an opportunity to sharpen their skills applying moral theories and argumentation principles have until Friday, April 8, to apply for the Western Michigan University Ethics Bowl team.

The WMU Center for the Study of Ethics in Society is recruiting students for the team. Tryouts are slated for Friday, April 15. Complete details and application instructions are available on the ethics center website at

Students who have recently taken ethics classes will find the Ethics Bowl team experience especially rewarding. Team members receive about 15 case studies in advance involving ethical issues in a number of practical contexts, including engineering, law, medicine, personal relationships, school and politics.

During a round, each team takes turns presenting its 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.

WMU has competed in the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl contest, put on by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, 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).

The Ethics Bowl now involves about 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.

Students must be in good standing for the fall 2011 term and willing to meet one or two times a week beginning around mid-September until the regional competition in mid-November. If the team advances to the national championship in March, it will have a similar meeting schedule in January and February. Being selected to represent WMU in this competition requires regular attendance at these meetings, as well as independent work researching assigned cases and preparing the team's position on those cases.

Team members are eligible to sign up for one to two hours of independent study credit in philosophy in spring 2012. Preference will be given to applicants who have successfully completed an ethics course.

WMU's team is sponsored by the WMU Center for the Study of Ethics in Society. Dr. Sandra L. Borden, professor of communication, is the team's faculty sponsor and co-director of the ethics center.

For more information, including sample case studies, visit the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl online. Questions should be directed to Borden at (269) 387-0362 or