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MSU Denver team beats CU at Ethics Bowl to qualfy for nationals

By Cliff Foster

Here’s the situation: The young woman works for a company that competes with her father’s business. In hopes of gaining an edge, he asks his daughter to spy on her employer and report back what she learns.

So, what is the ethical thing for her to do? Does she owe fidelity to her father or to her employer?

That’s a dilemma a team of MSU Denver students considered on their way to clinch the top spot in the Rocky Mountain Regional Ethics Bowl Nov. 10. Students from six schools competed, and MSU Denver’s team beat a team from the University of Colorado Boulder in the final round.

The winning performance by students Joey May, Ben Hand Bender, Savannah Sanburg and Timothy Ulrich earned them and coach Carol Quinn, assistant professor of philosophy, an invitation to the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics Bowl national championship competition Feb. 28 in San Antonio, Texas. In 2009 Quinn took an MSU Denver team to nationals where they placed 11th out of the 32-team field.

“I am so impressed by my team’s hard work, their dedication and their commitment to excellence,” Quinn says.

Put simply, an ethics bowl works this way: Several weeks before the competition, a team receives 15 case studies involving applied ethics in the fields of business, medicine, the environment and more. At the ethics bowl, a moderator poses a question based on a case. A member of a team responds; the opposing team answers back and the first team is given a chance to rebut. Teams continue through several rounds. The highest-scoring teams compete in the semi-finals and the two winners compete in the final round.

Judges are a mix of philosophy professors and community members, such as business and medical professionals. They evaluate presentations on several qualities, including coherence, relevancy and whether a presenter considers opposing views in reaching a conclusion.

Quinn will be losing three team members to graduation next year and is looking for recruits. Members don’t have to be philosophy majors—Joey May is the only one on this year’s team—but they do need to demonstrate certain abilities.

“We’re looking for people who are good at making arguments, are articulate and quick on their feet,” Quinn says. “And it doesn’t hurt if they are charismatic.”

For more information contact Quinn by clicking here.


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