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Ethics Bowl team heading to national championship

Dec. 6, 2007

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's Ethics Bowl team has won its regional championship and is headed to the national match Feb. 21 in San Antonio.

WMU won the second Upper Midwest Regional Ethics Bowl, held at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. WMU was the only undefeated team in the competition and had the highest score of any of the 10 teams at the contest. WMU has yet to lose a round in regional competition.

The students participating were: Jonathon Freye of Muskegon, Mich., a sophomore majoring in aviation flight science; Natalie Kaftan of DePere, Wis., a senior studying interpersonal communication and jazz studies; Linda Munnelly of Lexington, Ky., a senior majoring in journalism; Shawn Myers of Jackson, Mich., a junior majoring in biomedical sciences and psychology; Joshua Thomas of Holland, Mich., a sophomore studying psychology and philosophy; and Chelsea Thompson of Portage, Mich., a sophomore studying film, video and media studies major. Kaftan and Myers also were on the team last year.

The Upper Midwest Regional Ethics Bowl and the California Regional Ethics Bowl were the last of 10 regional competitions around the country to determine the 32 teams that will compete in the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl National Championship. The national contest is held as part of the annual meeting of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics.

The team's faculty sponsor is Dr. Sandra Borden, associate professor of communication and co-director of WMU's Center for the Study of Ethics in Society. The coaches are graduate students David Charlton of Kalamazoo, who is studying comparative religion, and Joshua Upson of Galesburg, Mich., studying philosophy.

The team is sponsored by the Center for the Study of Ethics in Society with financial support from Lee Honors College and the School of Communication.

Other teams that qualified for nationals besides WMU were the Illinois Institute of Technology, Carleton College and UW-Madison.

WMU will host the Upper Midwest Regional Ethics Bowl in 2008.

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.

The American Philosophical Association and the Philosophy Documentation Center selected the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl as winner of the APA/PDC prize for Excellence and Innovation in Philosophy Programs in 2006.

WMU has competed in the Ethics Bowl contest every year since it expanded from an intramural event to 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, fifth out of 26 teams in 2000, and ninth out of 32 teams in 2007.

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

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