The Other Super Bowl: Michigan's First High School Ethics Bowl

Seven teams will vie for state championship and a spot in the National High School Ethics Bowl line-up

On Sunday, February 9, seven teams from four local high schools--along with a panel of judges and volunteers from the community--will meet at the Neutral Zone in downtown Ann Arbor to participate in the first annual Michigan High School Ethics Bowl. Sponsored by in affiliation with the National High School Ethics Bowl competitions, the event is designed to introduce ethics quandaries and philosophical thinking to high school students while encouraging them to discuss their ideas with peers, students from area universities, and community leaders. 

As A2Ethics President Jeanine DeLay notes, “The focus of the Bowl will be on applied ethical problems that people face in their work and professional lives, in addition to some of the practical dilemmas students confront at school. The problems are formatted as case studies that teams research and analyze about a month before the competition.” 

Subjects range from human trafficking and school sport financing to professional dilemmas spanning healthcare, education, and business. Many of the cases have been written by local professionals in the fields of medicine, business, sports, education, and the media. 

The seven teams scheduled to participate in the Ethics Bowl represent Greenhills High School, Pioneer High School, Saline High School, and Washtenaw Technical Middle College. Competing in rounds, each team will present arguments about key case study ethical issues in a way that acknowledges differing viewpoints. Presenters also will field questions from the judges and the opposing team.

The goal is to win the highest number of points from three judges—some of whom are veterans of Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl competitions and current members of the University of Michigan Ethics Bowl team. In addition to earning their school the Hemlock Cup trophy for a year, the winners will receive individual commendations and a trip to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to compete in the National High School Ethics Bowl, scheduled for April 4-5. 

Judges for the competition will include:

John R. Chamberlin, Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Public Policy at the University of Michigan and former director of the U-M’s Center for Ethics in Public Life 

Fritz Detwiler, Professor of Philosophy & Religion at Adrian College and Director of Adrian College’s Institute for Ethics

Belinda Dulin, Executive Director of the Ann Arbor-based Dispute Resolution Center

The Honorable Virginia Morgan, former federal magistrate judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

The competition will be held at the Neutral Zone, located at 301 East Washington Street in Ann Arbor, from 1 p.m. until approximately 6:30 p.m. There is no admission fee for the event, which is open to the public.

Supporters and organizers are convinced that the concept will catch on quickly with teens and adults. 

“This event is a first for Michigan,” DeLay points out. “It offers students a unique opportunity to learn new approaches to research, analysis, and public speaking. It also gives them a chance to meet students with similar interests from other schools. Ethics Bowl competitions are growing. There are now 18 states with such programs. And while the first Bowl showcases Ann Arbor area talent, we have aspirations for this to become an annual event and an established academic extracurricular program offered by all high schools in the state. We would love for all Michigan high school students to be able to study and discuss the most challenging ethical issues of our time.”

Previous PostWinter Ethics Vortex Is Coming: The Fourth Big Ethical Question Slam
Next PostTalking Back to the Supreme Court: Citizens vs. Citizens United