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Ethics Bowl

ethics bowl

Openings on the Villanova University Ethics Bowl Team Each year the Villanova Ethics Program sponsors one team consisting of five undergraduate students to prepare, travel, and compete in the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl. The competition begins with ten regional matches in the fall that feed the national competition, held in the early spring.

The Ethics Bowl competition is presented annually by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics as a method of involving students in deliberating and debate on difficult ethical cases and controversies. The national competition, which draws together the top 32 teams from the regional rounds, is held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics.

At the regional competition, the participating teams compete in three rounds. The teams are given a dozen or more complex ethical and policy cases to study in advance of the competition, though they are not told what questions they will be asked about any case. For each match, one team is required to present a view on a case and then respond to questions from the opposing team and judges. Then the roles are reversed, and the opposing team presents an argument surrounding a different case, after which they respond to questions. Teams are evaluated at the end of each match for the quality of their arguments, responses, and counter-responses. The top three to four teams advance to the national competition.

At the national competition, the 32 participating teams compete in three rounds in the morning, using a format similar to the regional competitions. The top eight teams advance to the quarterfinals, which are held in the evening.

Interested students should send their name, year, major (or possible major), along with a statement of interest by email, to Dr. Mark Wilson.

Applicants are encouraged to include information about their coursework and background in ethics, along with any questions about the Ethics Bowl team that they may have. Team members meet twice a week from around late September until the November regional event. If they are successful in being selected to participate in the national competition, they will again meet twice a week from the beginning of second semester until the national competition.

Villanova Wins Bid to Nationals!


Should religious exemptions be granted for vaccines? Ought individuals choose not to have children in response to population growth and climate change? When is a woman morally responsible for unintended harm to her fetus? These are among the many questions explored by Villanova’s Ethics Debate Team at the 2019 Intercollegiate Northeastern Regional Ethics Bowl.


On November 23 at Salisbury University in Maryland, Villanova competed in the qualifying regional competition for the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl. After a brilliant performance in the opening rounds, where Villanova secured wins over Salisbury and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, Villanova secured a spot in the elite eight.  By unanimous vote of the judges, Villanova beat the University of Maryland-College Park (the only team to beat Villanova in the qualifying rounds) to reach the semifinals, where they narrowly lost to Tufts University on a split decision. With a top 4 finish in the region, the team anticipates one of 36 bids to Nationals, which will take place in Atlanta, Georgia in late February.  Congratulations to our Ethics Debate Team!!


Villanova’s Ethics Debate Members are:  James Lyons (not pictured), Meagan Murray, Erin Kelly, Timothy Byrne, and Anthony Berna.