The Ethics Bowl is an inter-collegiate debate competition focusing on case studies in ethics. Sponsored each year by the APPE, regional competitions are held around the country in 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 analysis and critical responses to fifteen 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 in many debate competitions, there is little emphasis on rhetoric and less emphasis on research. 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 in November. In addition, students formed an Ethics Bowl Club, which will provide the team access to Student Senate funds in the future. For the 2010-2011 academic year, we hope to expand participation in the Club as well as improve the team's performance in the competition. To that end, we have integrated Ethics Bowl style debates in the required course for our minors, Ethical Thinking, and are creating a one- or two-credit course to help organize the significant intellectual effort that must go into preparation for the competition.