The Parr Center for Ethics is proud to present NHSEBBridge. This new program will bring together first-year High School Ethics Bowl teams from those places across the country where NHSEB Regional Bowls do not yet exist. Those first-year teams are invited to participate in a new, borderless Regional Ethics Bowl administered by the Parr Center in collaboration with NHSEB organizers and experts from across the country. This event will be conducted virtually using the Parr Center’s NHSEBOne competition platform. Participating schools will be provided with a tailored experience for students and coaches who are new to the activity—with the additional provision of training, orientation, and formative feedback along the way. We have integrated the Bridge program with a service learning course at UNC which makes available our undergraduates to coach participants (both students and teachers) on moral theory, ethical reasoning, argument construction, and bowl mechanics in a series of virtually conducted 1:1 site visits.
What is an Ethics Bowl?
An Ethics Bowl is a competitive, yet collaborative event in which students discuss timely real-life ethical issues. In each round of competition, teams take turns analyzing ethical cases and responding to questions and comments from another team and 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.
The National High School Ethics Bowl (NHSEB) is hosted at UNC-Chapel Hill every year, and the NHSEB also supports a network of regional high school ethics bowls across the nation that take place annually in the fall and winter. Our data shows that this event teaches and promotes ethical awareness, critical thinking, civil discourse, civic engagement, and an appreciation for multiple points of view. We emphasize a collaborative brand of competition in the NHSEB because our 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. Students who participate in the NHSEB acquire a set of skills and experiences that one does not normally encounter in high school, yet which are essential not only for college but also for a lifetime of thoughtful, effective communication as workers, volunteers, friends, and family members.
High school students between 9th and 12th grade—whether in public, private, charter, magnet, independent, dual enrollment, or home schools—can join a team for a high school ethics bowl. NHSEBBridge will accept up to 10 teams for the 2020-2021 season, and will primarily select for teams which are (a) new to the activity and (b) located in areas where NHSEB regionals do not currently exist. Typical teams are composed of three to seven students with three to five students seated on a team in any one match. High school teachers usually serve as the coach or team advisor. It is permissible for parents to coach a team if approved by the high school administration. To join the NHSEBBridge roster, please fill out our Team Interest Form, and our team will be in touch with you shortly.
Inside an Ethics Bowl Match
Ethics bowl matches feature two teams meeting face-to-face to discuss and evaluate case studies which feature tricky moral questions or dilemmas. These cases typically come from one of the NHSEB’s annually released Case Sets—one for Regionals, one for Nationals. Each match will also have three judges and one moderator, and spectators are encouraged to attend as well.
To open the first half of the match, copies of the first case and question will be distributed to the judges and teams. The moderator will then read the case number, title, and a question for competition. Neither judges nor the teams will know in advance which case will be presented or which question will be asked. The first half then proceeds as follows:
- Moderator Period: A moderator will start the match by introducing a case from the set (which students have prepared with in advance) and asking a question that the discussion will address (which they have not).
- Presentation Period: After the case and question are introduced, Team A will have up to two minutes to confer, after which any member(s) of Team A may speak for up to six minutes in response to the moderator’s question, based on the team’s research and critical analysis. Team A must address the moderator’s question during the time allotted.
- Commentary Period: Next, Team B will have up to one minute to confer, after which Team B may speak for up to three minutes to comment on Team A’s presentation.
- Response Period: Team A will then have up to one minute to confer, followed by three minutes to respond to Team B’s commentary.
- Judges’ Period: The judges will then begin their ten-minute question and answer session with Team A. Before asking questions, the judges may confer briefly. Each judge should have time for at least one question, and may ask more questions if time permits.
Upon the conclusion of each half of the match, judges will score each team based on the following criteria:
- Team’s Presentation on the Moderator’s Question: Is the presentation clear and systematic? Does it address some central moral dimensions of the case? Does it indicate awareness of and responsiveness to opposing viewpoints?
- Responding Team’s Commentary: Is the commentary constructive? Does it advance the conversation by offering opportunities for clarification, questions for the presenting team, etc.
- Presenting Team’s Response to Commentary: Does the presenting team take seriously and adequately reply to the comments from their respondents?
- Presenting Team’s Responses to Judges’ Questions: Are judges’ questions answered effectively, clearly, and responsibly?
- Each team’s display of Respectful Dialogue throughout the match: Is each team committed to the central values of the competition—collaboration and the pursuit of truth, rather than, say, combativeness or belittling rhetoric?
For a full description of all NHSEB procedures, see the 2020-2021 Rules, Procedures, and Guidelines.
Cases for Competition (2020-2021)
- Factory Farming (Case #1)
- TikTok Infamous (Case #2)
- What’s in a Name? (Case #5)
- Dining out During a Pandemic (Case #6)
- Who Gets to be Fashionable? (Case #8)
- Wholesome Discipline (Case #9)
- Dating After Prison (Case #10)
- Contraceptive Controversy (Case #11)
- Harper’s Bizarre (Case #12)
- (De)funding the Police (Case #13)
Important note: The discussion questions in the Regional Case Set are designed to guide teams in thinking more deeply about the issues at hand, and do not necessarily include the questions moderators will ask teams during the competition. Please note: These are the cases for regional competitions and playoff matches only. The NHSEB will prepare a new set of cases for the National High School Ethics Bowl on April 10-11, 2021, to be released in late February 2021.
2020-2021 NHSEBBridge Event Calendar
The Practice Bowl, scheduled for November 24, 2020, 5-7pm (ET), will provide students with a space to experience their first Ethics Bowl in a low stakes environment in order to prepare for the official Bowl in December. UNC Coaches will moderate matches and serve as judges to provide students with feedback on their arguments. Registered NHSEBBridge Teams can RSVP here.
The NHSEBBridge Ethics Bowl on December 5 will be an official NHSEB Regional Bowl. Teams will be joined by moderators and expert judges from UNC and from the wider NHSEB community across the country. The winner of the Bridge Ethics Bowl will advance to playoff matches in February for a chance to receive a bid for Nationals, scheduled for next April. This event is scheduled to take place online using NHSEBOne, our new match administration platform. Detailed information and a full itinerary, here.
NHSEBBridge Participating Schools, 2020-2021
Coupeville High School, Coupeville, WA
Davidson Academy, Reno, NV
A&M Consolidated High School, College Station, TX
Johns Creek High School, Johns Creek, GA
Woodberry Forest High School, Woodberry Forest, VA (Alternate Team)
Director, National High School Ethics Bowl
Director of Outreach, Parr Center for Ethics + UNC Department of Philosophy
|Ally Adams is a Junior at UNC. Her major is Political Science with minors in English and History. She is from Belmont, North Carolina and is interested in true crime, hiking, and music. She is interested in how ethical theories can apply to decision making in the political atmosphere, and is excited to discuss the cases for the 2020 NHSEBBridge Ethics Bowl with students.|
|Camden Alford is a Senior at UNC, where she studies Public Policy and Political Science. She is excited be a coach for the NHSEBBridge program, and wishes she had been a part of a program like it in high school. She became drawn to ethics her Freshman year at UNC, when she started taking classes for his Philosophy Politics and Economics (PPE) minor. She’s loved going to PPE events and having ethical discussions in her classes and hopes to continue this with NHSEBBridge students.|
|Daniel Belovs is a Senior at UNC, from Charlotte, North Carolina. He majors in Economics. He thinks Ethics Bowl is important because it is trying to solve many of the issues of the debate format we are all used to in an interesting, collaborative way.|
|Quinn Fong is a Philosophy major with a Physics minor. He’s an out of state student from Seattle, WA, interested in feminist and deconstructionist philosophy. Perhaps confusingly, he also works at a pancreatic cancer research lab. He aspires to get outdoors more and in the meantime enjoys books and shows with morally ambiguous main characters.|
|Cameron Griffin is a Sophomore Neuroscience major and Philosophy minor at UNC. She hopes to go to medical school, but finds herself challenged by the ideas and concepts of philosophy. Being able to interact with others’ philosophical views and opinions is such a great way to expand our thinking and learn more about ourselves and others in the process; the Ethics Bowl is an opportunity she wishes she’d had herself while in high school.|
|Gavin Hughes is a Sophomore Philosophy major at UNC. He is currently on the pre-medical track and hopes to use his Philosophy major to become an ethical and fair physician. He has worked and volunteered as a tutor and mentor with children for many years. He thinks Ethics Bowl is an interesting opportunity to help teach young adults how to fully analyze real world problems and teach them the value of being able to look at all sides of an issue.|
|Isaac Hughes is a Junior at UNC, majoring in Philosophy with a Chemistry minor (on a pre-medical track). While he plans on medicine as a career choice, philosophy has been near and dear to his heart since high school, so he chose to study it in college since he will likely be engaged in STEM for the remainder of his life. The purpose of the Ethics Bowl is, to Isaac, an actualized version of what he thinks is most important for a healthy society; being wrong early and often, disagreeing non-viciously, and continuously improving through critical evaluation.|
|Dennis Kean is a Freshman Philosophy major at UNC. He thinks Ethics Bowl is important because it helps to foster a more productive and objective debate structure than traditional debate clubs. He is excited to get to work with students this Fall!|
|Erin Pippin is a Senior at UNC. She is a Psychology major with minors in Health and Society and Philosophy. She has always been passionate about service learning programs, having been involved with them in both middle and high school. This is just one of the many reasons she is excited to be involved in the NHSEB this year! She loves the notion of making philosophy accessible to students, and encouraging them in their exploration of the field.|
|Kayla Robinson is a Senior at UNC. She majors in Public Policy and Philosophy, with a minor in Politics and Economics. She loves philosophy and thinks participating in peer discussion about ethics is an excellent way to learn about each other and our humanity. The Ethics Bowl facilitates this meaningful dialogue, and she can’t wait to help out with NHSEBBridge this Fall!|
|Anthony Scirica is a Senior at UNC. He is a philosophy major with a minor in American studies. He’s very happy to be a part of this year’s Ethics Bowl. Philosophy is for everyone, and studying it builds critical thinking skills. Anthony loves teaching and aims to work in education after he finishes his degree.|
|Jeff Steuber is a Senior at UNC, majoring in Economics with an accompanying minor in Political Science. Jeff appreciates Ethics Bowl because it gives students the opportunity to discuss important moral questions. He firmly believes that these are important discussions to have. He is very excited to work with students and to hear what they have to say.
|Carson Suszynsky is a Junior Philosophy and Political Science major, with a PPE minor. She has a deep-rooted passion for both philosophy and service-learning, so when she saw the opportunity to become an Ethics Bowl Coach, she couldn’t resist! Carson thinks philosophy, in general, is so important in the refining of our problem solving, communication, and persuasion skill sets. Ethics Bowl is a unique opportunity to hone in on these skills in a way that is fun, competitive, and collaborative, and she cannot wait to be involved with coaching.|