SMWC honors students rank top at Ethics Bowl

November 11th, 2014 | SMWC

Ethics Bowl
Kathryn Myers, SMWC honors director and associate professor of paralegal studies, stands with the SMWC team that placed 8th in the Ethics Bowl at Marian University: (l to r) Dagny Gargas, Jacqueline Peterschmidt and Lacey Humphrey.

The students at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) never shy away from being the first or the only. Making history and aspiring higher – it’s pretty much their M.O. So when three SMWC honors students heard about the opportunity to compete in the Ethics Bowl at Marian University, an event they had no previous knowledge of before SMWC Honors Director Kathryn Myers suggested it, of course they tackled it.

With a strong foundation in liberal arts, SMWC prepares students to succeed in a variety of situations – most recently, the Ethics Bowl, an intercollegiate academic competition in which participants argue and defend the moral assessment of troubling and complex ethical issues that face society today. As the only all-female team and by far the smallest school, SMWC came in 8th place out of 24 teams at the 16th Annual Central States Regional Ethics Bowl.

“I believe our students were winners even though they didn’t place first,” stated Kathryn Myers, SMWC honors director and associate professor of paralegal studies. “Our women were quite impressive. I had several people who made it a point to come up to me and tell me how impressed they were with our women. Most could not believe they were freshmen and sophomores.” 

There was no doubt that SMWC was the underdog in the competition, with a team comprised of two sophomores – Jacqueline Peterschmidt, double major in computer information systems and equine training and instruction; and Dagny Gargas, double major in psychology and biology – and a freshman – Lacey Humphrey, humanities major – they competed against teams of four to five juniors and seniors with majors in philosophy, bioethics and pre-law.

“The sense of fellowship gained by competing academically with my peers was invigorating and is the reason that I intend to do this again next year,” stated Gargas, of Indianapolis, Ind. “Additionally, I gained background knowledge in ethics that I'll take with me the rest of my life, as well as a venue for sharpening my critical thinking skills.”

Myers explained that the competition focuses on selected cases developed by Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (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.  

“This academic competition brings to life situations that students will face in their professional careers,” stated Myers. “If we do not endeavor to educate a generation of ethical professionals, we run the risk of creating a society in which few of us would want to be involved.”

Ethics Bowl was developed in 1995 by faculty at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, and Marian University has hosted it since 1999. The Central States Regional Ethics Bowl is sponsored by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE) and is a qualifying site for the National Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl

“I took away a new perspective by participating in this event,” stated Humphrey, of Terre Haute, Ind. “How there is never truly a right or wrong answer to everything.”

These SMWC honors students are already planning on attending next year and hope to recruit another team.

“We are, of course, looking forward to next year even now,” stated Peterschmidt, of Valparaiso, Ind. “Our competitiveness will only increase now that we know exactly what we're dealing with.”

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