A team must be composed of at least three high school students all enrolled in the same school. Teams are capped at seven students, but only five students can be seated on a team in any round.
In an ethics bowl round, teams are evaluated by a panel of three neutral judges. The judges will score each team using a score sheet and a pre-set criteria. There are five main scoring areas for a total of 60 points:
- Presentation (15 points)
- Commentary (10 points)
- Response (10 points)
- Response to Judges’ Questions (20 points)
- Respectful Dialoge (5 points)
The role of a judge is to gauge a team’s breadth and depth of thought as applied to a specific ethical scenario (also known as an ethics case).
Please review the official NHSEB Rules, Procedures, and Guidelines and other official documents to fully learn about match format, scoring, and team procedures. You can also check out our other resources for instructional and pedagogical help as you prepare for competition.
A team must join their nearest regional bowl by contacting its organizers. A full list can be found here. A team must meet the following additional criteria to qualify for, and to participate in the National High School Ethics Bowl and to count as a qualifying team in their regional bowl:
- A team must be composed of at least three high school students. NHSEB teams will be capped at seven students (all of whom participated on a qualifying team at a regional bowl–see below), but keep in mind that only five students can be seated on a team in any one match.
- A team must represent an accredited and certified school that offers classes for grades 9, 10, 11, and/or 12 in the United States and must have the official endorsement of the school administration to participate in High School Ethics Bowls.
- Homeschool exception: Regional bowl organizers may, at their discretion, allow a team or teams of homeschool students to participate. Regional organizers should attempt to verify age and encourage homeschool students to form a team from multiple families. Participants may not be otherwise enrolled in another accredited high school.
- A team must register with both the NHSEB and with their nearest regional bowl.
- All teams must have a coach or advisor vetted and approved by school administration. If a team does not have an adult coach or advisor approved by the school’s administration, the team cannot compete at the Regional or National bowl.
- Homeschool exception: the coach or advisor of a homeschool team will be vetted and approved by the NHSEB Executive Committee.
For more information, see our full Rules, Procedures, and Guidelines for 2019-2020.
Regional qualifying ethics bowls may use the 2019-2020 Regional Case Set to determine which team will represent their local region at the 2020 National High School Ethics Bowl. The study questions do not necessarily include the questions moderators will ask teams during the competition–they are designed to guide teams in thinking more deeply about the issues at hand.
Please note: These are the cases for regional competitions only. The NHSEB will prepare a new set of cases for the National High School Ethics Bowl in April 2020, to be released in February.
The NHSEB Case Competition, sponsored by the Parr Center for Ethics, is an opportunity for high school students to write cases for the National High School Ethics Bowl. It will open again in Fall 2019!
Submissions should follow the general format for ethics bowl cases: a scenario, between 400 and 800 words long, that highlights a clear moral issue; is appropriate for high school students; and is written in a way that encourages civil discourse. The scenario should be framed so the central issue is clearly ethical and not simply or primarily legal or professional. You can search our archives of previous ethics bowl cases for guidance.
Students are allowed to submit more than one case—whether as an individual or as part of a collaborative team. If a student submits more than one case, only one of the cases submitted under his/her name will be able to win a prize (grand, runner-up, or honorable mention). Collaborations among students are allowed, with due credit being given to all who contribute. However, to ease the administration of the award, submissions must be made by a single person who then take responsibility for whether and how prize money will be distributed (and for the tax liability that comes with the prizes).
All submissions must be original materials, although appropriately cited excerpts may be used (a quote from a news source, for example). All submissions become the property of NHSEB and are eligible for inclusion in a current or future NHSEB case set, either in full or in part (including cases that are not selected for as prize winners). Cases may be edited after being evaluated for the case competition.
Entries will be judged for overall merit, interest of the moral issue presented, quality of writing, and suitability for a NHSEB competition.
Join the NHSEB Alumni Community! We want to hear from you and share your successes with new ethics bowl participants. Please complete a quick survey for more information.
The Association of Practice and Professional Ethics (APPE) sponsors the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl (IEB) program. More than 100 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada sponsor ethics bowl teams. In the fall, those teams compete in regional competitions and the national championship is held in late February or early March at the annual APPE meeting. In 2013, APPE began sponsoring an ethics bowl for junior and community colleges as well, now part of the IEB.
To learn more about how to start an IEB team, please visit this page.