Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Whitworth team takes second place in Northwest Regional Ethics Bowl

A team of Whitworth University students took second place at the ninth annual Northwest Regional Ethics Bowl, hosted Nov. 13 by the Microsoft Corporation., in Redmond, Wash.

The Whitworth team defeated teams from Washington State University, the University of British Columbia and Central Washington University. They defeated another team from the University of British Columbia in a semifinal match to advance to the finals, where they narrowly lost to Montana State University.

This year marks the eighth time in nine years that a Whitworth team has placed in the semifinals or finals. In the past four years, Whitworth has been undefeated in the preliminary matches at the Northwest Regional Ethics Bowl for a compiled record of 15-3.

The Northwest Regional Ethics Bowl was one of 10 regional competitions held this fall as part of the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl (IEB). By competing in the final match, Whitworth has qualified for the IEB national championship, to be held on March 3, 2011, in Cincinnati, Ohio, in conjunction with the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics.

In the IEB, a moderator poses questions to teams of three to five students. Questions may concern ethical problems on a wide range of topics. Each team receives a set of ethical issues in advance of the competition, and questions posed to teams at the competition are taken from that set. A panel of judges evaluates answers; rating criteria are intelligibility, focus on ethically relevant considerations, avoidance of ethical irrelevance, and deliberative thoughtfulness.

Prior to the Nov. 13 competition, Whitworth's interdisciplinary ethical-debate team analyzed 10 ethically complex cases pertaining to topics such as making voting compulsory, banning bullfighting in Spain, the expanding use of coal in the developing world, and changing privacy policies used by Facebook.

In each round of the competition, a panel of judges posed a question about a topic; the teams prepared responses using reasoning, application of ethical theories, and cogent-policy analysis. The teams gave short presentations on their responses and then fielded questions from the judges. The judging panels include ethics professionals and practitioners as well as ethics professors.

Members of the Whitworth team include history and political science major Peter Dolan, '11, philosophy major Krister Johnson, '13, philosophy and theology major Jared Lollar, '11, philosophy and political science major Benjameen Quarless, '12, and philosophy and English major Heather Wallace, '11. The team was coached by Mike Ingram, professor of communication studies and associate dean for faculty development and scholarship, and Keith Wyma, associate professor of philosophy.

Organized by the Illinois Institute of Technology's Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions, the IEB develops students' intellectual abilities and capacities, deepens their ethical understanding, and reinforces their sense of ethical commitment. The IEB has received a special commendation for excellence and innovation from the American Philosophical Association and has won the American Philosophical Association/Philosophy Documentation Center's 2006 prize for Excellence and Innovation in Philosophy Programs. The format, rules and procedures of the IEB all have been developed to model widely acknowledged best methods of reasoning in practical and professional ethics.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts:

Mike Ingram, professor of communication studies and associate dean for faculty development and scholarship, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4428 or mingram@whitworth.edu.

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.