Hello, and welcome to the 2020-2021 Ethics Bowl season!
The 2020-2021 season of the National High School Ethics Bowl will be, in many ways, an unprecedented one. Our organization and activity must rise to meet a moment which demands the very skills, values, and habits of mind NHSEB aims to foster. As you know, we live in a society characterized by disagreement over not just the substance of our politics, but some of our most fundamental beliefs, judgments, and values. In order for a democratic society to function well, its citizens must be able to reflect on, discuss, and, yes, vigorously disagree about these values in a way that is respectful, civil, and productive. As our politics grow more partisan and polarizing, this is a tall order in a normal year. The first half of 2020, however, has revealed even deeper challenges to our democracy and way of life in the forms of the destabilizing COVID-19 pandemic, accompanying economic and social crises, and a national moral reckoning around questions of racial identity, equity, and belonging. Now, perhaps more than ever, it is crucial for us to think, discuss, and get to work together on the issues that confront us all. The show, as they say, must go on.
After hearing from organizers, coaches, and students from across the country this summer, my team at the Parr Center for Ethics has resolved, as a matter of first priority, to ensure the continuity of the Ethics Bowl experience this year for the thousands of constituents we serve in ways that are fully compatible with their health and safety. We aim to faithfully preserve, insofar as is possible, all of the things our participants know and love about the NHSEB, and, due to the ongoing pandemic, it is increasingly clear that these aims will need to be accomplished in ways which are new and unfamiliar to many of us. And so, with many details still to come, we are now operating under the assumption that most of this year’s regional events will take place virtually. My team is working hard to build centralized infrastructure to enable and streamline this transition for all of our constituents. More information about our efforts, as well as some new initiatives to take advantage of the virtual-first space, will be rolled out later this Fall. While information necessary for its planning is sparse, we remain hopeful for an in-person National Bowl in 2021. However, we will be prepared for the possibility that it, too, will need to be re-conceptualized to meet this extraordinary and challenging moment.
While the tradition of kicking off our season with new cases isn’t new for many of you, I suspect that much we take on together this year will be. The coming year may necessitate many changes—some unforeseen—to our usual ways of operating. I am grateful for your flexibility, resilience, and hard work to continue making this activity everything it is and can be. As my team navigates an unprecedented season with the above goals in mind, I will also look to you—organizers, teachers, volunteers, and, yes, students too—for input and feedback on the process. At any time during the season, please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, concerns, or problems I can help solve. As always, I look forward to meeting many of you this year, and to sharing and celebrating this remarkable program’s continued success—even and especially during hard times—with all of you!
Gratefully and excitedly yours,
Director, National High School Ethics Bowl