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SCU's five ethics bowl team members plus coach posing in a hotel in Atlanta

SCU's five ethics bowl team members plus coach posing in a hotel in Atlanta

Santa Clara Ethics Bowl Team Finishes in Top 8 in National Competition

Thirty-six teams from across the United States competed to apply ethical reasoning to challenging case studies.

Santa Clara University’s Ethics Bowl team traveled to Atlanta Feb. 22-23 to participate in the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl National Competition. The team went 4-0 in their first four rounds, defeating Sam Houston State University, Ole Miss, the University of Northern Colorado, and Utah Valley University. After advancing to the quarterfinal round, the team was defeated by a narrow margin by Youngstown State University—the team that went on to win the tournament.

SCU finished in the top eight out of 36 teams from across the United States.

Ethics Bowl is a team-based intercollegiate competition focused on applied ethics, or the practial application of moral considerations. Topics include a variety of issues in business and professional ethics, interpersonal relationships, and social and political affairs.

For the national championship, the Ethics Bowl competitors received 17 case studies that focused on ethical challenges such as plagiarism, the Green New Deal, reparations, social bots, journalistic ethics, immigration policy, and more.

For two months, the team prepared ethical analyses and arguments for each case, including responses from the opposing team and judge questions. Over two days of round-robin competition in Atlanta, they were judged on their ability to 1) understand the facts of the given case; 2) articulate the relevant ethical principles involved; 3) present an argument for how the case should be resolved, including weighing potential objections as part of their analysis; and 4) respond effectively to challenges posed by the opposing team and judges.

Santa Clara’s Nationals team members are Courtney Davis ’21, Kelly Fradet ’20, Mohit Gandhi ’21, Sam McNeal ’20, and Anthony Mejia ’20. Erin Bradfield, lecturer in philosophy, coaches the team. Miles Elliott, ’19, former Ethics Bowl National Champion (2018), joined the team in Atlanta to help prep and coach. Ethics Bowlers Delaney Nothaft ’20, Lia Petronio ’21 and Emma Samuel ’22 also helped prepare the team for Nationals.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our Ethics Bowl team, whose performance during the rounds over the weekend was nothing short of extraordinary,” said Bradfield. “The students dedicated an incredible amount of time and effort to researching and preparing arguments, and it was wonderful to see the team in action, making detailed philosophical arguments and having fun while doing it.”

The Santa Clara University Ethics team is sponsored by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and the Department of Philosophy. In the Fall, participants enroll in the PHIL 185 course, a 5-unit class that fulfills certain requirements for philosophy, civic engagement, and the applied ethics pathway.

The Ethics Bowl is sponsored by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics.



SCU's Ethics Bowl team members Sam McNeal ’20, Anthony Mejia ’20, Kelly Fradet ’20, Courtney Davis ’21, and Mohit Gandhi ’21 with coach Erin Bradfield.