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Ethics Bowl team suffers narrow quarterfinal loss

March 26, 2009

KALAMAZOO--After advancing undefeated into the quarterfinals in the 2009 Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl National Championship, Western Michigan University's team was narrowly defeated in quarterfinal competition.

WMU's Ethics Bowl team lost its quarterfinal match to Eckerd College by just five points after beating Williams College, Weber State University and DePauw University in preliminary matches.

The University of Indiana ultimately finished first among the 32 teams competing in Cincinnati at the March 5 event, sponsored by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics.

WMU students participating were: Nicola Fitzsimmons, a junior from Kalamazoo, Mich., studying philosophy, political science and psychology; Shawn Myers, a senior from Jackson, Mich., studying biomedical sciences and psychology; Joshua Thomas, a junior from Holland, Mich., studying psychology and philosophy; and Chelsea Thompson, a senior from Portage, Mich., studying communication.

WMU qualified for the national championship by finishing third at the Upper Midwest Regional Ethics Bowl held in November on the WMU campus. The regional winner, Northeast Illinois University, also made it to the quarterfinals.

The team's faculty sponsor is Dr. Sandra Borden, professor of communication and co-director of WMU's Center for the Study of Ethics in Society. The coaches are David Charlton of Kalamazoo, a graduate student in philosophy; Joshua Upson of Galesburg, a part-time instructor in philosophy; and Nicholas Sars of Kalamazoo, a graduate student in philosophy.

"The team was outstanding this year," Borden says. "They offered well-reasoned positions and were articulate and professional."

The team is sponsored by the ethics center with financial support from the School of Communication and Lee Honors College. Thompson is a communication major, and Myers is a member of the honors college.

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 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.

Join the team

The WMU Center for the Study of Ethics in Society is taking applications for next year's Ethics Bowl team, with applications due by Friday, April 3. Tryouts will be held the week of April 6. The regional qualifier will be in November, while national competition will be during the spring 2010 semester, if the team advances. All travel expenses are covered by the University.

For information, contact Dr. Sandra Borden at (269) 387-0362 or sandra.borden@wmich.edu or visit the Center for the Study of Ethics in Society online.

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

WMU News
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