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Whitworth team takes third place in Northwest Regional Ethics Bowl

November 17, 2009
A team of Whitworth students took third place at the eighth annual Northwest Regional Ethics Bowl, hosted Nov. 14 by The Avanade Co., in Seattle, Wash. The Whitworth team defeated groups from Central Washington University and Montana State University to advance to the semifinals, where they lost a close match to another team from Central Washington University. This year marks the seventh time in eight years that a Whitworth team has placed in the semifinals or finals.

The Northwest Regional Ethics Bowl was one of 10 regional competitions held this fall as part of the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl (IEB).

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. 14 competition, Whitworth's interdisciplinary ethical-debate team analyzed 10 ethically complex cases pertaining to topics such as the creation of synthetic meat, policies in which women pay higher rates than men for similar types of health insurance, and how Kenya should manage national parks and resources in cases of severe food shortages.

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.

Members of the Whitworth team include philosophy and theology majors Dan Herve, '10, and Jared Lollar, '11, philosophy and sociology major Benjameen Quarless, '12, philosophy and marketing major Mary Rupert, '10, and speech communications major Michella Sutherland, '12. 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 special commendation for excellence and innovation from the American Philosophical Association and 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 2,700 students, offers 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


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

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or