The Ethics Bowl is an intercollegiate debate competition focusing on case studies in ethics. Sponsored each year by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE), regional competitions are held around the country each November to select the finalists for the national competition held in conjunction with the APPE's annual meeting in March. Each three to five-person team prepares an analysis and critical responses to 15 case studies on a wide variety of ethical issues, which are made available six weeks before the competition. During three rounds of the debate, each team alternates with their opponents in either responding to a randomly-selected case or critiquing their opponents' analysis.
Unlike many debate competitions, there is little emphasis on rhetoric and research in the Ethics Bowl. Rather, the goal is nuanced and sophisticated ethical analysis with clear, rational justification. Judged on the basis of the clarity of the presentation, avoidance of ethically irrelevant matters, recognition and consideration of alternative ethical perspectives and focus on the central ethical aspects of the case, the competition requires students not only to master ethical analysis and argumentation, but also to cultivate skills of public presentation and debate.
Hiram College formed its first Ethics Bowl team in the fall of 2009 and attended the regional competition in Indianapolis that November. In addition, students formed an Ethics Bowl Club, which provides the team access to Student Senate funds. In an effort to expand participation in the Club and improve the team's performance in the competition, we have integrated Ethics Bowl style debates in the Ethical Thinking class, a required course for our minors, and developed an Ethics Bowl course to help organize the significant intellectual effort that must go into preparation for the competition.