The National and Regional High School Ethics Bowls are competitive yet collaborative events in which students discuss real-life ethical issues. In each round of competition, teams take turns analyzing cases about complex ethical dilemmas and responding to questions and comments from the other team and from a panel of judges. An ethics bowl differs from a debate competition in that students are not assigned opposing views; rather, they defend whichever position they think is correct, provide each other with constructive criticism, and win by demonstrating that they have thought rigorously and systematically about the cases and engaged respectfully and supportively with all participants. Data from NHSEB surveys shows that this event teaches and promotes ethical awareness, critical thinking, civil discourse, civic engagement, and an appreciation for multiple points of view.

NHSEB’s goal is to do more than teach students how to think through ethical issues: It is to teach students how to think through ethical issues together, as fellow citizens in a complex moral and political community. 

The NHSEB is 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.

Regional Competitions are held across North America from September to early February. If you are a high school teacher or student interested in participating, please feel free to get in touch with the NHSEB staff, who are happy to work with you in establishing a team and, if there is not already one in your area, a regional competition. To see if there is a regional bowl in your area click here and contact your nearest Regional Organizer to join!

The NHSEB is run by Dominique Déry, the program’s Director, with advising and support from an Executive Committee at UNC Philosophy and the UNC Parr Center for Ethics as well as an external Advisory Committee. Topic-specific committees (such as Outreach, Fundraising, Resources, and Rules) are formed as needed.

2018-2019 NHSEB committees and members:

NHSEB Director
Dominique Déry | Parr Center for Ethics
Dominique received her PhD in political theory from Duke University in 2015.  Her dissertation, “Civic Friendship and Democracy: Past and Present Perspectives” focused on several accounts of the meaning and importance of things like care and compassion in healthy and diverse democratic communities. She has worked for Transplanting Traditions Community Farm, the Kenan Institute for Ethics, and The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University.
(919) 962-2576 

Executive Committee
Katie Fanfani Bunyea | Parr Center for Ethics
Sally Moore | Parr Center for Ethics 
Geoff Sayre-McCord | UNC Philosophy
Sarah Stroud | Parr Center for Ethics
Steve Swartzer | Parr Center for Ethics
Rob Willison | Parr Center for Ethics                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Advisory Committee          
Pat Croskery | Ohio Northern University — read Pat’s obituary here; we will always be extremely grateful for Pat’s guidance and generosity.
Jeanine DeLay | A2Ethics
Mark Doorley |  Villanova University  
Alex Feldt | University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Richard Greene | Weber State University
Kyle Robertson | University of California, Santa Cruz
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.

Inspired by the aims and values that govern the National High School Ethics Bowl (NHSEB), the Marc Sanders Foundation is pleased to sponsor prizes for the finalists and semifinalists in the NHSEB National Bowl, held each Spring at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. The Marc Sanders Foundation aims to stimulate renewed appreciation for philosophical issues and the skills needed to fruitfully explore them, and is delighted to support the excellence and hard work of high school students across the country in this annual competition. The Marc Sanders Foundation also helps to fund our financial aid program that helps qualifying teams travel to the Nationals. We are grateful for their important support.

At the 2019 Nationals, the finalists (two teams) and semifinalists (two teams) will be awarded with a prize of $2,500 per team.

Congratulations to the four teams that received the Marc Sanders Prize at the 2019 National High School Ethics Bowl:  

  1. Jesuit High School (OR)
  2. Choate Rosemary Hall (CT)
  3. St. Petersburg High School (FL)
  4. Colorado Academy (CO)

Check out our audio and video of NHSEB Nationals through the years here!

2019 NHSEB

Photography provided by Steven Swartzer and Caroline Carpenter.

2015 NHSEB

Photography provided by Rachel McClain. If interested in purchasing higher quality prints, please contact Rachel directly at

2014 NHSEB

Photography provided by Rachel McClain. If interested in purchasing higher quality prints, please contact Rachel directly at

2013 NHSEB

Photography provided by Terry Ciszek