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Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl team seeks members

May 8, 2006

KALAMAZOO--Students interested in arguing complex ethical questions and competing against their peers at other institutions across the country are urged to try out for Western Michigan University's Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl team.

The WMU Center for the Study of Ethics in Society is looking for four students to join the team. The application deadline is Sept. 8. Tryouts will be held Sept. 15.

The Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl is a national contest held annually in conjunction with the annual meeting of APPE--the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics. The 2007 contest is Feb. 22 in Cincinnati.

The Ethics Bowl provides students with an opportunity to practice applying the moral theories and argumentation principles that they learn in their ethics classes. They 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.

The contest this year drew 40 teams representing colleges and universities throughout the United States, putting their ethical reasoning to the test in an exciting and educational way. The Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl received a special commendation in connection with the 2004 Prize for Excellence and Innovation awarded by the American Philosophical Association and the Philosophy Documentation Center.

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. The competition went national in 1997 with grant funding from Sears Roebuck Co. WMU's best national showings were third out of 14 teams in 1998 and fifth out of 26 teams in 2000.

The event has gotten so popular that the competition is being reorganized to allow participation by more schools. Beginning in 2007, teams will have to qualify for the national competition by winning a regional ethics bowl contest first. WMU's regional contest will take place in late October or early November at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago.

Getting a spot on the team involves a commitment to meet twice a week for approximately two hours beginning in mid-September until the regional competition. If the team advances to the national competition, it will have a similar meeting schedule in January and February. Being selected to represent WMU requires regular attendance at those meetings, as well as independent work researching assigned cases and preparing the team's position.

Team members are eligible to sign up for one to two hours of independent study credit in philosophy or communication in spring 2007. Applicants must:

Be in good standing as an active undergraduate student at WMU in fall 2006;

Have taken at least one course in ethics. Preference will be given to candidates who have completed an ethics course by the end of the 2006 Summer II session, but students enrolled in an ethics course during fall 2006 also will be considered;

Be willing to spend time during the first half of the fall semester preparing for the regional qualifier at Northeastern Illinois University and be available to travel to Chicago for the contest in late October or early November.

Be willing to spend time in January and February preparing for the national competition and be available to travel to Cincinnati Feb. 21-25 if the team advances.

WMU's team is sponsored by the Ethics Center for the Study of Ethics in Society, with financial support from the Lee Honors College. Dr. Sandra Borden, WMU associate professor of communication, is the team's faculty sponsor and co-director of the ethics center.

For more information, including sample case studies, visit www.iit.edu/departments/csep/eb. Students interested in applying should contact Borden at sandra.borden@wmich.edu or (269) 387-0362.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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