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Regional ethics competition to be held at WMU

Nov. 12, 2008

KALAMAZOO--Nearly 40 students from nine colleges and universities in Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin will come to Western Michigan University Saturday, Nov. 15, to compete in the third Upper Midwest Regional Ethics Bowl.

The event is one of eight regional ethics bowls taking place this fall as part of the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl. On March 5, 2009, the 32 top-scoring teams in the eight regional ethics bowls will compete for the national championship at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, which will take place this year in Cincinnati.

The Upper Midwest Regional Ethics Bowl is co-sponsored this year by WMU's Center for the Study of Ethics in Society, the School of Communication, Lee Honors College and the Department of Philosophy. The competition will be held in Brown Hall.

Members of WMU's team are: Nicola Fitzsimmons of Kalamazoo, Mich., a junior studying philosophy, political science and psychology; Shawn Myers of Jackson, Mich., a Lee Honors College senior studying biomedical sciences and psychology; and Joshua Thomas of Holland, Mich., a junior studying psychology and philosophy.

Dr. Sandra Borden, professor of communication and co-director of WMU's Center for the Study of Ethics in Society, is coordinating the regional competition with assistance from Joshua Upson, a graduate assistant for the ethics center. Borden is the faculty sponsor of WMU's team. The team's coaches are David Charlton of Kalamazoo, a master's student in philosophy from Kalamazoo; and Upson, a master's student in philosophy from Galesburg, Mich.

The Ethics Bowl provides students with an opportunity to practice applying moral theories and argumentation principles. 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 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. 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.

The Ethics Bowl became a tiered competition beginning in 2007. WMU's team won the 2006 regional qualifier at Harper College and the 2007 qualifier at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

For more competition information, visit http://ethics.iit.edu/eb/index.html.

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

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