Student team wins regional Ethics Bowl competition

On Saturday, November 21, a group of five UW-Madison students — four of them from CALS — traveled to Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago to compete in the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl (IEB). The IEB is a team competition in which each team receives a set of ethical cases dealing with practical and professional issues. Teams prepare an analysis of each case and answer questions posed by a moderator that address ethical problems on wide ranging topics, such as the classroom (e.g. cheating or plagiarism), personal relationships (e.g. dating or friendship), professional ethics (e.g. engineering, law, medicine), or social and political ethics (e.g. free speech, gun control, etc.) A panel of judges probes the teams for further justifications and evaluates answers. Teams’ responses are then rated by the judges on the following criteria: intelligibility, focus on ethically relevant considerations, avoidance of ethical irrelevance, and deliberative thoughtfulness.

The UW-Madison team included Matt Bobel (CALS – Biology), Maria Stubbings (CALS – Genetics), Sean McMaster (CALS – Biochemistry), Ainsley McMaster (CALS – Genetics), and Kurt Gosselin (L&S – Political Science).

John Klatt, CALS student services coordinator, is the team coach, but he’s says his role was really pretty minimal.

“I’m the coach on paper, but they pretty much did this on their own,” he says. “This is a real testament to what students can do when they’re movtivated and we get out of their way,” he says.

The UW-Madison team won the regional competition, the Upper Midwest Regional Ethics Bowl (UMREB) with a record of 4 – 0 in head-to-head matches. By winning the UMREB, the team qualified for the national competition in Cincinnati, OH held in March.

This is the third time in four years UW-Madison has competed in the IEB. In 2006 a group of engineering students formed the first UW-Madison team. In 2007, UW-Madison hosted the regional bowl and the UW-Madison team placed fourth, just missing an invitation to the national competition. In a short time, the team has set a high standard of performance.