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Ethics team places among top 10 nationally

March 11, 2007

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's Ethics Bowl team placed ninth among 32 teams at the 2007 Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl National Championship in Cincinnati Feb. 22. The competition was held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics.

The students participating were junior Natalie Kaftan of DePere, Wis., a member of the Lee Honors College majoring in interpersonal communication and vocal performance; sophomore Shawn Myers of Jackson, Mich., a member of the Lee Honors College majoring in biomedical sciences and psychology; and sophomore Jennifer Praner of Battle Creek, Mich., a biomedical sciences major.

WMU qualified for the national championship by winning the first Upper Midwest Regional Ethics Bowl in December.

"I am very proud of the team. They offered well-reasoned positions and communicated them eloquently. The judges commented positively on their performance as well," says Dr. Sandra Borden, associate professor of communication, co-director of WMU's Center for the Study of Ethics in Society and the team's faculty sponsor.

Five graduate students served as coaches for this year's team: David Charlton of Kalamazoo; Brennan Jacoby of Clarklake, Mich.; Joanne Chung Lau of Melbourne, Australia; Joshua Upson of Galesburg, Mich.; and Tedla Woldeyohannes of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. All but Charlton are master's students in philosophy, and Charlton is a master's student in comparative religion.

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 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 the other 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 Ethics Bowl contest every year since it expanded from an intramural event a small regional contest involving a handful of colleges in 1994, a competition WMU won. The competition went national in 1997. WMU's best national showings were third out of 14 teams in 1998 and fifth out of 26 teams in 2000.

The Center for the Study of Ethics in Society will accept applications for the 2008 team beginning in April. For more information, contact Dr. Sandra Borden at sandra.borden@wmich.edu.

Media contact: Deanne Molinari, (269) 387-8400, deanne.molinari@wmich.edu

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