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FLC Ethics Team argues its way to national championships

FLC Ethics Team argues its way to national championships

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A team of four Fort Lewis College students will debate ethical situations and questions this weekend in a competition against schools from across the country at the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl national championships in Costa Mesa, California.

The national competition is held in conjunction with the Association for Practical & Professional Ethics annual conference. The FLC squad qualified for the nationals after a strong finish at a regional Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl event held in Boulder on the weekend of November 14. 

The event features hundreds of students in teams from across the United States and Canada. The teams argue and defend their moral assessment of some of the most challenging ethical issues in topics ranging from business and professional ethics, to personal relationships, to social and political affairs.

Cases are developed by APPE ethics faculty, researchers, and professionals. The student competitors demonstrate their ability to understand the facts of the case, articulate the ethical principles involved, present an effective argument on how the case should be resolved, and respond effectively to challenges from the opposing team as well as the panel of expert judges.

Mark Mastalski, director of the Leadership Center, coaches the FLC Ethics Bowl team and will be traveling with the team to the national competition. This year’s team has been meeting weekly since early September and has had two scrimmages judged by FLC philosophy and political science professors. 

For Theresa O’Hare, a senior Philosophy major on the team, her classes have been a tremendously helpful preparation for the Ethics Bowl and the real world cases that each team analyzes and to which they respond.

“I feel like we’re incredibly lucky to have the [philosophy] professors that we do,” Theresa says, “because a lot of my preparation has been my four years in classes discussing ethical frameworks and thinking deeply about these issues. Now I have a lens to apply to these cases.”

Philosophy may seem like a natural fit for an Ethics Bowl competitor, but true to the liberal arts environment that Fort Lewis College is known for, the team comes from a variety of disciplines. In addition to Theresa’s Philosophy major, the other members are studying Music, Theatre, and Gender & Women’s Studies.

"I am extremely proud that this year’s team will be representing the Rocky Mountain Region, along with the team from University of Nebraska-Lincoln," says Mastalski, who himself has been an Ethics Bowl judge. "The Ethics Bowl is a terrific opportunity for students to take what they learn in class and expand on that learning by diving deeper into philosophy and moral theories."

"Participating in the Ethics Bowl is an amazing experience and absolutely worth all of the anxiety and preparation," says O'Hare. "My team and I are incredibly happy to represent Fort Lewis College!"

Follow the team’s progress on Twitter at @flcdurango as we live-tweet the event on Sunday!

UPDATE: At the national IEB, Team FLC finished in ninth place, defeating teams from the University of Northern Georgia and University of Alaska-Anchorage. 

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