BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— For the third time in five years, the Ethics Bowl team at Illinois
Wesleyan has qualified for the national Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl competition, to
be held this year on Feb. 21. IWU’s team is one of only 32 in the country to compete
in the national competition.
Ethics Bowl team members argue and defend their moral assessment of complex ethical
issues pertaining to today's global society. Questions address a wide array of topics
in business and professional ethics, in personal relationships, and in social and
political affairs. Team coach Emily Kelahan said participating in Ethics Bowl events
encourages students to look at difficult problems from the perspectives of those with
whom they disagree. “Our team is very frequently composed of students with conflicting
viewpoints,” said Kelahan, assistant professor of philosophy. She said the competition’s format also forces students to find common ground and
build consensus about tough issues, often in a matter of minutes.
The IWU team’s third-place finish in the Central States Regional Ethics Bowl in November
earned its spot in the national competition. Team member Nick Bates ’16 (Champaign,
Ill.) said the regional competition featured topics such as police officers' rights,
the composting of corpses, and the regulation of prescribed painkillers.
Assistant Professor of Philosophy Andy Engen, the team’s other coach, and Kelahan
said Ethics Bowl participation typifies the kind of personal attention and interaction
with faculty members common at IWU and fosters deep and meaningful relationships among
students and their peers.
Bates agrees. “I have made great friends through Ethics Bowl, and I am thankful for
that,” said Bates, a philosophy major. “I am ecstatic we made it to nationals, and
I can’t wait to see how we’ll do.”
The 2016 competition will be the second time attending the national contest for team
members Steph McAtee ’16 (Papillion, Neb.) and economics major Eric Hyla ’16 (Lake
Villa, Ill.). Other members include mathematics major Hang (Jade) Phung ’17 (Hanoi,
Vietnam) and psychology major Anna Moczynski ’16 (Rockford, Ill.)
“Ethics Bowl is experiential learning at its best,” said Kelahan. “Students learn
about abstract ethical theories in the classroom and then have to go before judges
from far outside the ‘ivory tower.’ Students often have to justify health care reforms
to CEOs of hospitals, defend the elimination of social programs to social workers,
and recommend parenting techniques to parents. It’s one thing to develop a policy
recommendation in the comfort of the classroom, but it’s quite another to justify
it to the people who might actually be charged with implementing that recommendation
in the real world.”
She noted the team is grateful for the support from the Provost’s Office and Student
Senate for the opportunity to compete at the national level.