High schoolers wrestled with some of the deepest questions of morality at the second annual National High School Ethics Bowl Friday and Saturday, at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School.
Growing from a total of three high schools in North Carolina when it started in 2008, more than 2,000 students from more than 100 high schools participated in the High School Ethics Bowl this year from local and regional levels.
Students from 17 states and the District of Columbia competed in the national competition, having qualified for the event after winning their local and regional bowls.
The event featured topics that incited discussions on morality including the conditional use of medical drugs, ethics of historical fiction, media of mass murder, state-sponsored abortion and state secularism.
A moderator ran the event, while three judges, consisting of University faculty, UNC graduate students and other members of the UNC and ethics bowl communities, scored the teams. Scores were based on the inclusion of multiple viewpoints, the clarity of presentation and the discussion of morality.
“We assess how strong their argument is — have they evaluated the other side, since both sides are generally balanced,” said Richard Greene, Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl Board Chair and judge at the event.
Teams were provided with the topic, and given a short period of time to discuss before one team gave the initial presentation in addressing the moral dilemma.
The responding team then had five minutes to provide commentary to explain other views on the initial presentation, and point out gaps in argumentation. The first team addressed the commentary and answered questions from the judges.
“I love having judges who care about the issue and get 10 minutes to ask questions,” said Sage Heuston, a competitor from The Waterford School in Utah.