The Impact of Ethics Bowl

Written by: Jayme Hein

As we get further and further into our lives, it seems that we are faced with more and more ethical issues, especially when we enter the workforce. Luckily, Dr. Spence, a professor in the Department of Philosophy, Religion, and Leadership at Adrian College is giving students the opportunity to prepare for these decisions: the Ethics Bowl. 

When participating in the Ethics Bowl, Dr. Spence explains that “Each team is given a set of cases, say maybe twenty, to prepare for. At the competition, four or five of those cases are chosen to discuss in each round. In a round, one team gives their analysis, the other team comments on their analysis, the first team responds to those comments, and then finally questions from a panel of judges. The roles are then reversed and the second team begins with analysis, and the process is repeated.”

Teaching and learning ethics is a difficult subject, as it all relies on the specific situation. However, the Ethics Bowl gives students the chance to practice through experience and it makes them more prepared for their future. 

Madison Tluczek, an alumnus states that “Ethics Bowl cases are all about thinking through current, worldly problems and considering alternate perspectives. I use these skills daily while interacting with patients, working with the clinical ethics consult team, and even just talking with friends.” 

Tluczek just finished her first year of medical school, and after her graduation from Adrian, she pursued a Master’s degree in bioethics from Wake Forest University. Another Ethics Bowl Alumnus, Nolan Gillespie stated, “Ethics Bowl, philosophy, and the like will certainly help with critical thinking, comparative analysis, and defending oneself from common flaws in our mental faculties.”

Aside from preparing students for their future careers, the Ethics Bowl is a great opportunity to meet others from around the nation. When the Ethics Bowl was first brought to Adrian College about ten years ago, students competed in Chicago. Dr. Spence says, “I think they lost to some business students from a school around the Detroit area. After the competition, our team had dinner with them to learn some strategy about the competition.” 

With these benefits, the Ethics Bowl is additionally a great resume builder because almost all career fields include some form of ethical reflection. The series of competitions can help you build so many skills outside of ethics such as critical thinking, argument building skills, good communication, etc. which are necessary things to bring with you into the workforce. 

In the past, Adrian College’s team has traveled for many different competitions and built tons of experience within the field of ethics. In the past, Adrian has traveled to Chicago, Oakland University, Alabama, and Maryland. Not only is experience gained, but traveling is an extra perk. Gillespie states, “I truly appreciated traveling with Dr. Spence and the other students. We all had Ethics Bowl in common and it helped show, beyond the obvious, the utility of studying philosophy.” 

The Ethics Bowl is a great way to learn about ethics and decision making and is also a great community to belong to throughout your years here at Adrian, as it is a perfect way to build memories that will last a lifetime. Dr. Spence says, “I’ve never had a student who didn’t enjoy the experience, and nearly all go back the following year.” Which is supported by two alumni, Tluczek and Gillepsie. If the Ethics Bowl is something that would interest you, there will be an information session held in April 2021 with Dr. Spence. If you plan on participating, contact Dr. Spence. 

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