UCSC’s Ethics Bowl team qualifies for national competition

UCSC Ethics Bowl team

The UC Santa Cruz Ethics Bowl team

UCSC’s Ethics Bowl team placed third at the Regional Ethics Bowl Tournament hosted by National Hispanic University on Saturday, qualifying the campus to compete at the National Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl Competition.

Students at this year’s regional competition discussed topics such as whether it is morally inconsistent for pet owners to eat meat, ethical for consumers to purchase products made in sweat shops, or morally acceptable to pay bone marrow donors.

The national championship competition will take place at the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics annual meeting in Jacksonville, Florida, on February 27.

“Participating on the Ethics Bowl debate team is a unique opportunity for students to critically reflect upon and present their own moral values by examining real-world ethics cases,” said UCSC coach Sandra Dreisbach.
“Students not only need to develop their own moral argument using major ethical theories, but they also need to be able to quickly respond to any moral question about their case, as well as opposing views from other schools that challenge their moral stance,” she added.  

Dreisbach—a graduate of UCSC with a Ph.D in philosophy and now a lecturer in UCSC’s biomolecular engineering department—co-founded the campus team in 2005 with fellow philosophy grad student Carmen Zinn.

She noted that even though UCSC encourages critical reflection throughout the university, the Ethics Bowl experience is invaluable for students--not only because there are relatively few opportunities on campus for students to work on their public speaking skills, but also because it specifically addresses students moral views and challenges them to confront their own personal values.

“The students can't just hide behind a paper where they write down what they believe--they must talk about what they stand for with their teammates and defend what they believe in,” said Dreisbach. “Over the years I've seen time and time and again, being a part of Ethics Bowl changes students lives.”

“Being a part of our Ethics Bowl team is hard work both academically and personally, but it truly is a labor of love,” she added. “Our students will tell you that they work harder for our class than any of their other classes, but to them it’s worth it.”  

UCSC faced 18 teams from 13 different schools across the state in the regional competition, including San Jose State University, Cal Poly Pomona, UC Santa Barbara, Azusa Pacific, and Santa Clara University.

The top scoring 32 teams in similar regional Ethics Bowl contests across the country will compete in February’s national competition.