Greater Cincinnati Regional High School Ethics Bowl
Saturday, January 20, 2024 – Location TBD
Ethics Bowl is a debate style competition, but is very different from debate. Its founder, Bob Ladenson, views it as scoring a conversation and teaching people how to engage in dialog. The predictor of who wins a round is often based on which team receives the highest score for considering thoughtfully viewpoints from people that may disagree with their team’s position.
The Cincinnati Ethics Center and University of Cincinnati will host the 2nd annual Greater Cincinnati Regional High School Ethics Bowl on Saturday, January 20, 2024. The event is slated to take place in the Carl H. Lindner College of Business building in the heart of UC’s campus. All area high school’s are encouraged to participate. An ethics bowl is a competitive yet collaborative event in which students discuss timely real-life ethical issues. In each round of competition, teams take turns analyzing ethical cases and responding to questions and comments from another team and a panel of judges. An ethics bowl differs from a debate competition in that students are not assigned opposing views; rather, they defend whichever position they think is correct, provide each other with constructive criticism, and win by demonstrating that they have thought rigorously and systematically about the cases and engaged respectfully and supportively with all participants.
The Greater Cincinnati Regional High School Ethics Bowl cannot be held without a strong showing of volunteer support. Volunteers can come from many walks of life: community members, local current or retired professionals or , alumni, faculty, staff, graduate, and undergraduate students from UC. In addition to general volunteers that can help with event logistics, three key roles that must be filled for each match are: Judges, Moderators, and Room Staffer.
A panel of three judges is used to score each match of the competition. A judges role is gauge a team’s breadth and depth of thought as applied to a specific case and score it on and official scoresheet based on scoring criteria provided by NHSEB. A judge cannot not have any obvious conflicts of interest, i.e. be a coach or parent of a participating team, teachers from the school of a participating team, etc. A judge does not need to have a background in philosophy or ethics education nor come from the field of academia. They should be familiar with the case set in advance of the competition, listen earnestly and take notes during the team’s presentation, so they are prepared to ask thought provoking questions based on the case and the presentation of the presenting team during the Q&A portion of the round. These questions are geared to force the teams to think on their feet, since that can’t prepare in advance for the questions. They also give judges more insight into the breadth and depth of the team’s analysis of their case.
Moderators, one per match, are the time keepers of the match; helping the event stay on schedule and ensuring that all teams have equal opportunities to express their arguments. Moderators are provided with a script they are strongly advised to adhere to and minimize the impulse to improvise. The ability to read and manipulate a stopwatch are the are the skill sets needed to be an effective moderator. Also teams may be nervous, so a calming, at ease, demeanor is beneficial.
Room staffers are assigned to each competition room to make sure judges and moderators have all the tools (cases, pens, pads, water, etc) needed for the round. They make sure the teams, judges, and moderator are in the right room at the right time. They work to solve minor issues that may arise and if they can’t solve them they quickly seek out a primary event organizer. They are the first person people see when entering a room and thus set the tone by bestowing smiles, pleasantries as people enter the room. A room staffer should be prepared to step in as a Judge or Moderator if the need warranted.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is National High School Ethics Bowl (NHSEB)
NHSEB was founded in 2012. NHSEB’s aims and ideals at the time of its founding were essentially three-fold: (1) to take seriously the contribution that teenagers make as members of their communities, (2) to cultivate skills and virtues central to democratic citizenship, and (3) to prepare students to navigate challenging moral issues in a thoughtful and open-minded way. In its inaugural year, it served around 1,000 students from 89 schools in 11 states. 12 regional competitions sent their victors to the inaugural national competition, held on the UNC-CH campus in 2013. As of 2021, the NHSEB serves nearly 4,000 students from over 500 teams, which represent 335 schools, nationally. There are 41 regionals in 31 states and Greater Cincinnati is joining that growing list.
Data from NHSEB surveys has shown that that participating in ethics bowl teaches and promotes ethical awareness, critical thinking, civil discourse, civic engagement, and an appreciation for multiple points of view in students. Teachers also believe students involved in ethics bowl have improved standardized test scores when compared to non-participating students.
Why is the Cincinnati Ethics Center (CEC) promoting National High School Ethics Bowl?
Last spring the CEC hosted Ethics Bowl 101, an informative introduction to NHSEB that was attended by 58 area high school administrators, teachers, students, and Cincinnati community organizers. The event was a huge success. Andy Cullison, CEC Executive Director, was interviewed by Lucy May on Cincinnati Edition a few weeks later along with a student, a potential coach, and a guidance counselor from Mt. Healthy High School. During that interview the coach said he was so impressed with what he learned that he secured permission from his principal to create an ethics bowl course the day after attending the event. He also said that he thought every high school in America should have this. That’s when we realized that the enthusiasm and the momentum is already here, so let’s really try and expand this now if we can. Five schools gave us a verbal commitment to form a team coming out of that event.
Who participates in high school ethics bowl?
High school students between 9th and 12th grade. Teams can be formed from public, private, charter, magnet, independent, dual enrollment, or home schools. However, we realize that schools may not have the human resources needed for this activity, so high school aged students that are part of community organizations (i.e. CPD Police Youth Cadet Program, Girl and Boy Scout troops, Inroads, Links, etc.) are encouraged to participate also. Teams are composed of three to seven students with three to five students seated on a team in any one match. High school teachers usually serve as the coach or team advisor, but adult leaders from the community are allowed to coach/advise as long as it is approved by the high school administration.
What is the date for the 2023 Greater Cincinnati Regional High School Ethics Bowl?
Saturday, January 21, 2023 to be held at the new Digital Futures Building. It will be a full day of activities, 8a – 5p, depending on the number of teams competing.
Are there official rules and regulations governing the competition
Team registration is open now through December 31, 2022. While we can accept registrations past the 31st, your team would have a very condensed timeframe to properly analyze and prepare cases for the competition.
Is there a cost to register my team?
In honor of the inaugural year the Cincinnati Ethics Center is waiving registration fees for all teams. In subsequent years fee waiver will occur for first time participants only. For future budgeting purposes, based on the NHSEB registration cost for the 2022-2023 registration, fees would be as follows: Each team will pay $150 for the first team registered, if registered before NHSEB’s late registration deadline (December 2 in 2022), and $75 for each additional team. Schools may register and pay for a maximum of three teams. After December 2, late fee registration applies and fee increases to $200 for first team. The fee includes $125 ($175 after December 2) paid to NHSEB during their registration process. If your school faces significant financial challenges, please contact Venus Kent (firstname.lastname@example.org) for Cincinnati Regional fee waiver and NHSEB (email@example.com) for their fee waiver.
Where is the competition schedule?
The schedule of events as of December 9 is available now. The competition schedule will be available on the day of the competition, provided at team check-in. All teams will be guaranteed three rounds to obtain scores that will be used for placement in the final rounds.