Ethics Bowl team attends national competition

Kelsey Ruane

The ethics bowl team participated in the 15th Annual National Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl competition in Cincinnati on March 5 for the first time since 2006.

After placing fourth at the Northeast Regional Competition, hosted at Villanova in November, the team was invited to Cincinnati.

The team consisted of junior Kathleen McKee and sophomores Andrew Jursik, Eric Pathe, Dominique Sepe and Alissa Ricci, who filled in for Nicole Lum.

Mark Wilson, an ethics professor, coached the team at the national bowl.

Six weeks before the national bowl, the team received 15 cases, many derived from news headlines, to prepare moral analyses for the competition, according to Dr. Mark Doorley, director of the ethics program and sponsor and coach of the team.

The team members did not know which cases they would be asked to respond to at the bowl, so they spent three hours a week for six weeks in preparation.

“The Ethics Bowl is not a debate in that one team tries to defeat the other team’s argument,” Doorley wrote in an e-mail. “At times this may happen, but it is also possible that both teams hold the same conclusion, and then the discussion is about how best to support that conclusion.”

The University’s first Ethics Bowl team was coached by Sarah Vaughan Brakman, then director of the ethics program, and Rev. James McCartney, O.S.A., a philosophy professor.

The team competed in Washington, D.C. in spring 2000 and won third place.

Villanova has had a team of five undergraduates for all but one of the last nine years, according to Doorley.

Before 2006, the National Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl was open to the first 32 teams who simply indicated their desire to participate.

Ten regional competitions were established in fall 2006, since the previous system kept many colleges and universities from participating in the national competition.

Villanova failed to advance to the 2007 and 2008 national competitions after the fall 2006 and 2007 northeast regional competitions.

The Bowl is overseen by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, which encourages “interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching of high quality in practical and professional ethics by educators and practitioners who appreciate the practical-theoretical aspects of their subjects,” according to its Web site.

“There are many reasons to get involved in the Ethics Bowl, least of which is the enjoyment of digging into thorny moral problems from a wide range of public and private arenas,” Doorley wrote.

This year’s team did not place at the national competition. Indiana University won first place and Clemson University won second.

Kara Herman contributed reporting to this article.