“High School Ethics Bowl is one of the best ways to raise a generation of young people with strong ethical principles and the ability to reason.” Sophomore student, Kenneth
What is Ethics Bowl? Imagine teams of students contemplating moral and ethical dilemmas in a competition which prioritizes respectful and courteous discourse, reason, consideration of other perspectives, philosophy, and critical thinking. THAT is Ethics Bowl, and it has come to Oklahoma with full force.
Oklahoma colleges have competed in regional and national ethics bowl for years, but 2017 represents the first nationally recognized high school event in Oklahoma. Sixteen teams from nine Oklahoma high schools gathered on the University of Oklahoma campus January 28, 2017 to explore topics ranging from consumer privacy and government entitlement programs to arming police and conscious consumerism.
The new Oklahoma competition is a volunteer initiative spearheaded by the Student Education and Ethics Development (SEED) Foundation (formerly the OK Ethics Foundation), and sponsored by the Masonic Fraternity of Oklahoma and the University of Oklahoma. Teams from across the state are encouraged to participate, and no team will be turned away for lack of funds to register for the competition. Grants are available via funding provided by the Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma, and teams are encouraged to contact their local Masonic Lodge for help fundraising if travel funds are needed.
Shannon Hiebert, co-President of the SEED Foundation, feels this program represents a crucial piece of education to which not all students have access. “This competition isn’t just an exercise in critical thinking. It engages students in conversations which cause them to reflect upon their own beliefs and behavior and hopefully realize that no matter what their station in life, their own personal character is important and has an impact.”
Sylvia Hayes is a college student who has competed in Ethics Bowl at the college level for several years. She says, “Ethics Bowl has helped me to develop my own ethical framework to assess situations that I face in real life. It’s fun, it’s challenging, and it’s interesting. It has been a great way to make friends from different majors and learn to see the world through their eyes. I love Ethics Bowl.”
Students aren’t the only ones who benefit from the competition. The event relies entirely on volunteers from business, law, and higher education who serve as judges, moderators, and event coordinators. Ginny Bass Carl, Senior Director of Development and Gift Planning at Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation served as a judge in the high school competition and said the event gave her hope for the future. “I was pleasantly surprised by the level of competition, preparedness and compassion of all the students…These kids give me hope for a brighter future that is willing to engage in thoughtful discourse, have dialogues about difficult issues, truly listen with open minds and open hearts, and lead with compassion.”
Dove Science Academy’s team, “The Scientists”, took the first place prize and will travel to Chapel Hill, North Carolina in April to compete at the national high school ethics bowl event. Teams from Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics and Norman North High School earned second and third place, respectively.
Oklahoma lodges are encouraged to contact their local high schools and solicit participation in next year’s high school ethics bowl competition. The 2017 competition represents the starting point in a long-term vision for ethics education in Oklahoma. John Logan, Executive Director of the Masonic Charity Foundation, states “Engaging students in thoughtful discussion about ethics has a direct effect on the families, peers, communities, and future business associates of these students. We hope this program will continue to grow and encourage formal ethics education in every community in Oklahoma.”
For more information about ethics bowl or to register a team, contact Colin Schoonover, Co-President of the SEED Foundation, at 405-200-7382 or go to www.okethicsbowl.com.