The Hauppauge Ethics Bowl Team Builds Character
The National High School Ethics Bowl, hosted by the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, “promotes respectful, supportive, and rigorous discussion of ethics among thousands of high school students nationwide.” Hauppauge has participated in the Ethics Bowl at the regional level, held annually at Hofstra University the first week in February. The winner of the regional competition goes on to compete in the nationals held at UNC. Here is an explanation of the Ethics Bowl from the UNC website:
“Each Fall, the NHSEB releases a set of cases covering a broad range of issues, which then serve as the focus for the year. Teams meet together regularly, with a coach, to research the cases, to discuss the issues they raise, and, to identify clearly how they think those issues should be addressed. Wrapped around this work is a model for the competitions that rewards students for the depth of their thought, their ability to think carefully and analytically about complex issues, and the respect they show to the diverse perspectives of their peers. As a result, the NHSEB cultivates the virtues central to democratic citizenship, and prepares students to navigate challenging moral issues in a systematic and open-minded way.” (http://nhseb.unc.edu/)
IB Program Coordinator Dr. Ellen Ryan was first invited to be a Regional Ethics Bowl judge in 2013 and has continued to judge every year since that time. Judges come from diverse professions, including professors of philosophy, administrators, accountants, doctors, business professionals, attorneys, writers, teachers, PhD students, and psychologists. This year, Dr. Ryan had the privilege and honor to judge, not only the 4th round of the competition, but also the semi-finals match on two difficult cases, “Bodily Integrity Disorder” and “Breed-Specific Legislation.”
After her first year as a judge, Dr. Ryan was so impressed with the critical thinking and enthusiasm of the students on the teams that she brought the case studies back to Hauppauge for the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) classroom. Ms. Debbie Surian, the IB TOK teacher, agreed to be a judge the following year and she began to integrate the case studies into her TOK classes. The purpose of the Ethics Bowl aligns with the work that is done in the IB Theory of Knowledge class whose aims are as follows:
- make connections between a critical approach to the construction of knowledge, the academic disciplines and the wider world
- develop an awareness of how individuals and communities construct knowledge and how this is critically examined
- develop an interest in the diversity and richness of cultural perspectives and an awareness of personal and ideological assumptions
- critically reflect on their own beliefs and assumptions, leading to more thoughtful, responsible and purposeful lives
- understand that knowledge brings responsibility which leads to commitment and action
Because of her positive experience, Ms. Surian decided to field an Ethics Bowl team from Hauppauge as a coach rather than a judge, starting and advising the Ethics Bowl Club in 2015 which is open to all students, not only the IB students in the TOK class. This club has grown in numbers over the years and is strong enough now to field two teams, with alternates. We are proud that the Hauppauge team won the prestigious “Spirit of the Ethics Bowl” award last year, an honor given to the team who receives the most points for respectful dialogue.
This year’s team one was Devin Capece, Thomas Martinez, Sindhu Padaga, David Pennino, Carter Rogan, and John Spateri. Team two was Haylee Lanfranco, Lexie Leuci, Dylan Mahoney, Jessica Spiers, Hamza Syed, and Madison Wahl.
The teams did quite well. Both teams had two wins and two losses, which is a good record, considering the competitions.
The teams argued cases dealing with the ethical questions of:
"How far is it appropriate for an individual to go when modifying their behavior and/or image to follow norms that they consider unjust or objectionable?"
"To what extent do we have moral duties to contribute to our nation, even at our own expense?"
"To what extent does gentrification serve as a help or hindrance to a neighborhood?"
"To what extent, if any, is academic laziness ethically problematic? If it depends, what does it depend on?"
"Should student social media presence play a role in the college admissions process? If so, to what extent? If not, why not?"
"Is it morally permissible to violate what we can suppose are morally justified company rules in order (potentially) to bring about a morally desirable outcome?"
Here is a link to more information about the Regional Ethics Bowl: