For the fourth time in five years, the Villanova University Ethics team has earned a spot in the National Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl, a competition that engages controversial topics and rewards respectful discourse.
“The Ethics Bowl embodies Villanova’s virtues of truth, unity and love and assumes that they must be joined,” said Mark Wilson, PhD, Ethics professor and co-coach of the Ethics Bowl team, along with Albert Shin, PhD, a Catherine of Siena Fellow in the Ethics Program. “If we strive together for truth, in the spirit of care and love, we might just find unity. Easier said than done, but this is the endeavor.”
Each year the Villanova University Ethics Program, housed in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, sponsors one or two teams of undergraduate students to prepare, travel and compete in the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl. While two teams may compete at the regional match, held every fall, only one team may represent the University at nationals, held in the early spring.
“The overarching goal of the Ethics Bowl is to have students actualize a richer form of dialogue and realize that on the most contentious issues and amidst the war of words, we need to remember that we are a shared community and that this is not a zero-sum game,” said Dr. Wilson.
Culminating in a tight match against West Point, one of this year’s teams—comprising of Eric Aldieri ’17 CLAS, Ronald Berna ’18 CLAS, Madeleine Messinger ’17 COE, Akash Dagur ’17 CLAS and Luke Hensley ’17 COE—finished third in the regional competition, and won a bid to nationals in Dallas. Ronald, who also competed during his first-year, is excited to return to nationals and says the competition has been influential in his overall education.
“Being a member of the team and working through the cases has definitely shaped the way I think, view myself and evaluate my actions,” said Ronald. “I'm much more reflective in my everyday life, and this has translated to a more synthetic approach to academics in general.”
The Ethics Bowl is one of several extra-curricular opportunities offered through the interdisciplinary Ethics program. Students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the School of Business are required to take an introductory Ethics course, shaping students to be engaged thinkers who are committed to responsible citizenship.
“The course enables students to identify, critically engage and articulate a more or less nuanced understanding of the moral dilemmas of our time,” says Mark Doorley, PhD, chair of the Ethics program.
Beyond the classroom, these lifelong skills are applicable to other academic disciplines, extra-curricular activities and leadership positions.
“It’s helped me think through complex problems and articulate my thoughts clearly,” says Jubilee Marshall ’19 CLAS. “In particular, when I act as a discussion facilitator for Villanova Feminism Club, the skills I have developed from Ethics Bowl really help me to sustain a nuanced dialogue amongst myself and the other members.”
Villanova has participated in the intercollegiate Ethics Bowl for more than 15 years, and in recent years the University has extended its commitment to educating ethical leaders by hosting the Delaware Valley High School Ethics bowl. Each fall, as many as 12 regional high schools participate in the ethics bowl at Villanova. University faculty, alumni and students volunteer to be judges and moderators at the event.
“The college and university are providing the resources for these students to engage in critical thinking, civic dialogue and respectful engagement with their peers,” said Dr. Doorley. “These are the hallmarks of a liberal arts education, and that is the kind of education that is central to what we do here at Villanova.”
About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenged and changing world. With 39 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.