Mission and History
The National High School Ethics Bowl is a program that promotes respectful, supportive, and in-depth discussion of ethics among high school students nationwide. By engaging high school students in intensive ethical inquiry, the NHSEB fosters constructive dialogue and furthers the next generation’s ability to make sound ethical decisions. Our collaborative model rewards students for the depth of their thought, their ability to think carefully and analytically about complex issues, and the respect they show to the diverse perspectives of their peers. As a result, it enables students to practice and build the virtues central to democratic citizenship, thus preparing them to navigate challenging moral issues in a rigorous, systematic, and open-minded way.
A Brief History of the NHSEB
The National High School Ethics Bowl was founded in 2012 as the product of a partnership between the Squire Family Foundation and the Parr Center for Ethics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with generous support from GlaxoSmithKline.
In its inaugural year, it served around 1,000 students from 89 schools in 11 states. 12 regional competitions sent their victors to the inaugural national competition, held on the UNC-CH campus in 2013. This initial event was modeled on the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl (IEB), and we are indebted to their sponsor, the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, and to the IEB’s creator Dr. Robert Ladenson, for their example, inspiration, and assistance.
The NHSEB’s aims and ideals at the time of its founding were essentially three-fold: (1) to take seriously the contribution that teenagers make as members of their communities, (2) to cultivate skills and virtues central to democratic citizenship, and (3) to prepare students to navigate challenging moral issues in a thoughtful and open-minded way. All of these goals remain our lodestar, and comprise our mission statement today.
Since 2013, the National High School Ethics Bowl has grown at a steady clip with the support of the UNC Philosophy Department and other partners and sponsors. As of 2019, the NHSEB serves over 4,000 students from over 500 teams, which represent 327 schools, nationally. Our headquarters at the Parr Center oversees 36 regionals in 28 states today, and directly administers the largest of those, the North Carolina High School Ethics Bowl.