What is an Ethics Bowl?

An ethics bowl is a lot like a debate.  Teams compete by arguing the ethics of social, political, and moral issues relevant to our world today. The true purpose is to learn something both from one’s own team and from the competing groups.  Questions for ethics bowl competitions can come from any area of interest in the news, education, medicine, law, business, technology, research, interpersonal relationships, and so on. The goal is to demonstrate an understanding of the ethical justifications for one’s actions under real-world circumstances.


How did UCF develop ethics bowl competitions for the UCF community?

The University of Central Florida received a grant from the American Association of Colleges and Universities’ project, “Core Commitments: Educating Students for Personal and Social Responsibility.”  An on-campus ethics bowl is part of that grant project.  In addition, UCF has sent teams of students to regional ethics bowl competitions since 2004.


Who can participate?

Any member of the UCF community may participate, in one form or another, in the UCF Ethics Bowl. Teams consist of 3 to 8 undergraduate students and one sponsor. The students can be from any college or degree program at UCF. Likewise, the sponsors can be faculty, staff, or administrators from any college or department. If you are interested in participating, contact either Michael Strawser (strawser@mail.ucf.edu) or Nancy Stanlick (stanlick@mail.ucf.edu) at the Department of Philosophy.


Who are the judges?

We are always looking for members of the community to act as Judges and Moderators for the competition. These include professionals outside the University, faculty members, administrators, and graduate students. No philosophical experience is required, just an open mind. Sadly, there is no payment for being a judge in the ethics bowl, but being a judge is definitely a rewarding experience!


Can I, or my organization, help to sponsor the ethics bowl?

YES! If you would like to be a corporate or individual sponsor, please let us know. We would very much appreciate your help. Contact Nancy Stanlick (stanlick@mail.ucf.edu) or Michael Strawser (strawser@mail.ucf.edu) at the Philosophy department.


How do I form an ethics bowl team?

If you are faculty, staff, or an administrator interested in forming and sponsoring a team for the UCF Ethics Bowl, contact Nancy Stanlick (stanlick@mail.ucf.edu) at the Philosophy department for details. Then let us know what UCF department, college, or unit you will represent.

If you are a student (or group of students) interested in participating, first ask a faculty, staff, or administrator if they would be willing to sponsor your team, or contact Michael Strawser (strawser@mail.ucf.edu) at the Philosophy department for help finding a sponsor.

Then fill out a registration form, available from http://nstanlick.googlepages.com/ucfethicsbowlregistration



Can there be more than one team from a department, college, or unit?

Yes, any administrator, faculty, or staff member interested can sponsor up to 2 teams for each Ethics Bowl. Suppose, for example, that the Department of English has 12 students who are interested in participating in ethics bowl competition.  Each ethics bowl team should consist of no more than 8 people, and no less than 3, so the English Department could have two teams of 6 or 3 teams of 4.


Is it necessary to have taken an ethics course to participate in ethics bowl?

No, it is not a necessity.  It is helpful if at least one member from each team has some familiarity with ethical theories or has taken an ethics class. Again, however, this is not a necessity.



What is the cost of participating in the ethics bowl?

Nothing; there is no registration fee, and lunch is provided for freeon the day of the competition.



How do teams prepare for the ethics bowl?

Cases will be distributed to all teams and are available from: http://ethics.iit.edu/eb/national.html. They will be the same as the South East Regional Ethics Bowl cases.  To prepare you should know the background of the cases, considering the ethical issues and moral dilemmas involved, and determine a position that you and your team will take with respect to those issues.  There are no hard and fast rules for preparation; it depends completely on the individuals involved and their agreement within their groups about how they would like to proceed with preparation.

We recommend dividing up the cases, researching them, and meeting regularly to discuss the ethical issues.


How does the UCF Ethics Bowl “work”?

Teams will be paired against each other for the initial rounds of competition.  No teams will know prior to the beginning of each round which cases they will be considering.  One team is asked a question by the moderator and then has up to seven (7) minutes to present the team’s answer to that question.  Then, the opposing team has up to five (5) minutes to critique or rebut the first team’s arguments.  Then, the presenting team has three (3) minutes to reply to the rebuttal.  The judges then have nine (9) minutes to ask questions of the presenting team. After this has taken place, the second team is then asked a question concerning a different case, the opposing team provides a critique, the second team provides a reply, and the judges ask a final set of questions. For more specific details, see the Procedures page.


How is scoring done in the ethics bowl?

Each round with two competing teams and two cases will have at least 3 judges and one moderator (when and where possible).  The moderator asks the initial questions and keeps time.  Judges provide scores based on each team’s Clarity/Intelligibility, Ethical-Relevance, Consistency, Thoughtfulness, and Preparation. The maximum score for any one team in a single round is 150 points (up to 100 when presenting & 50 when critiquing). The team with the most points at the end of the round wins. After three (3) rounds the top four (4) teams (based first on win/loss, head-to-head wins, then point-differential) compete in a semi-final round with the two (2) winning teams competing in the final round. *Judge’s scores are final unless deemed unduly unfair by competition organizers; appeals will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.


How long does the UCF Ethics Bowl competition last?

Generally speaking, each round lasts approximately 65 minutes.  The entire ethics bowl competition will take, including breaks, approximately eight ( 8 ) hours over a single day. For the most part, the most time is spend preparing and researching before the competition begins.


When and where will the ethics bowl competitions for UCF be held?

The next competition is on Sunday, March 1st beginning at 8:30am. It will be held in the UCF Teaching Academy (TA) located on the southwest corner of UCF’s main campus.



What happens if there are Administrative, Procedural, or any Other Disagreements during the competition?

This is an interesting and exceptionally important question.  For pragmatic purposes, ethics bowl organizers will make decisions regarding rules and procedures and interpretations of rules and procedures.  Organizer decisions are final.  Organizers of the ethics bowl make every effort to make decisions that are as fair as possible to all involved.  For the improvement of the event, we do appreciate and take into consideration any comments and suggestions that those involved bring to our attention.


What is the benefit of ethics bowl competition?

It depends on what you mean by “benefit.”  If you mean “will I learn something of value from participating in this competition?” the answer is definitely “YES.”  Ethics bowl competitions are an educational activity.  But, like a sporting event, it is possible to become the “favorite” team among spectators.  Perhaps we’ll even get our own stadium! Only joking, of course.