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Ethics Bowl

Invented in 1993 by Emeritus Professor Robert Ladenson, the Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions (CSEP) has been involved in the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl Competition since the beginning and invites interested students to join us!

QED: The Ethical Debaters is a student organization that seeks to discuss ethical and philosphical issues relating to modern society, and compete in ethics bowl competitions around the Chicago area and country. You can see the latest events the organization is sponsoring by visiting their Facebook page.

The team meets weekly during lunch to discuss philosophy, ethics, and debate about current ethical issues on the news. Only undergraduate students are allowed to compete in offical ethics bowl competitions, but we welcome everyone to our meetings who is interested in lively debate and discussion. Feel free to stop by, or email us at for more information.

Starting in 2016, CSEP has co-hosted a Chicago regional competition in partnership with the University of Chicago's Winning Words. All Chicago-area high school schools are welcome to be a part of this competition, and the winning teams will have the chance to compete in the National High School Ethics Bowl Competition at UNC Chapel Hill. If you are interested in learning more, please email Kelly Laas at

About the Competition

The Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl and the National High School Ethics Bowl combine the excitement and fun of a competitive tournament with a valuable educational experience for students. Recognized widely by educators, the Ethics Bowl has received special commendation for excellence and innovation from the American Philosophical Association, and received the 2006 American Philosophical Association/Philosophy Documentation Center's 2006 prize for Excellence and Innovation in Philosophy Programs. The format, rules, and procedures of the Ethics Bowl all have been developed to model widely acknowledged best methods of reasoning in practical and professional ethics.

In the Ethics Bowl, a moderator poses questions to teams of three to five students. Questions may concern ethical problems on wide ranging topics, such as the classroom (e.g. cheating or plagiarism), personal relationships (e.g. dating or friendship), professional ethics (e.g. engineering, law, medicine), or social and political ethics (e.g. free speech, gun control, etc.). Each team receives a set of ethical issues in advance of the competition, and questions posed to teams at the competition are taken from that set. A panel of judges evaluates answers; rating criteria are intelligibility, focus on ethically relevant considerations, avoidance of ethical irrelevance, and deliberative thoughtfulness.

Since its inception at Illinois Tech in 1993, the Ethics Bowl has spread at the college level to include 11 regional competitions and one national competition held in conjunction with the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics annual meeting, and at the high school level to include 33 regional competitions and over 355 schools nation-wide. The ethics bowl format can also be used in a classroom setings to help integrate discussions about ethics in a wide range of disciplines and grade levels.