SMWC Ethics Bowl team advances to nationals

December 18th, 2015 | SMWC

(l to r) Dagny Gargas, Lacey Humphrey, Jacqueline Peterschmidt

In only their second of year of competing in the Ethics Bowl at Marian University in Indianapolis, Ind., Saint Mary-of-the-Woods students Dagny Gargas, Lacey Humphrey and Jacqueline Peterschmidt placed second and will advance to the national competition on February 21, 2016, in Reston, Va.

“We never imagined we'd do so well our second year,” stated Dagny Gargas, SMWC junior double major in psychology and biology, of Indianapolis, Ind. “All of the other placing winners got up and calmly accepted their awards, but our team was so elated that it's possible that we shrieked a bit. I don't regret making a fool of myself while claiming our award, however. Second is a great accomplishment.”

Ethics Bowl is an academic competitive tournament resembling a quiz bowl or debate competition. SMWC competes in the Central States Regional. Each region receives bids to the National Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl held at the annual meeting of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE); thirty-six teams will be participating this year.

This year, SMWC took two teams. The second team – Casey Dust, of Rockville, Ind., Madison Summerlot, of Spencer, Ind., Macy Dorman, of Ridgeport, Ind., and Ashleigh Pflum, of Indianapolis, Ind. – placed 17 out of 27 teams.

The competition focuses on selected cases developed by APPE faculty, researchers and professionals that cover a wide range of disciplines such as business, engineering, journalism, law, medicine and social work. In the competitions students demonstrate their ability to (1) understand the facts of the case, (2) articulate the ethical principles involved in the case, (3) present an effective argument on how the case should be resolved and (4) respond effectively to challenges put forth by the opposing team as well as the panel of expert judges.  

“The best concept that I see in the competition is that if college students discuss and debate real-world ethical issues, they are better prepared to become ethical leaders when they graduate,” states SMWC Honors Director Kathryn Myers. “With the lack of ethics making news on a regular basis, it is incumbent upon colleges to make ethics a top priority in education of students, both for their personal and for their professional lives.”

Teams do not have to take pro/con positions; in fact, they can agree with each other. They are not required to refute each other’s points, but rather are asked to offer commentary on one another’s arguments. Teams are coached to not think in terms of “beating” the other team by out-arguing their opponents, or to try to score points through rhetorical or semantic fine points. Rather, they are encouraged to arrive at whatever seems to be the best answer together, through informed, civil dialogue or civility. 

“In one short year, we went from not knowing what Ethics Bowl was to being more confident, stronger as a team, and showing that our three-woman team is a force to be reckoned with,” stated Lacey Humphrey, sophomore SMWC environmental science major, of Terre Haute, Ind. “To say that I am excited for nationals would be a serious understatement.”