WSU Ethics Bowl Team Wins Regional, Advances to National Competition

OGDEN, Utah – A Weber State University Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl team once again is headed to the national finals.

A WSU team topped nine others from seven schools to win the 11th annual Wasatch Regional Ethics Bowl Competition on Nov. 12. By winning at the regional contest, which WSU hosted, the five-member team advanced to the national championship competition, set for March 1, 2012, in Cincinnati.

The winning team won all five of its rounds.

With the victory, WSU has won the regional competition three times, and this is the fifth time in the past six years that WSU teams have advanced to the 32-team nationals.

“It was a solid performance by every member of the team that contributed to our going undefeated,” said Richard Greene, a philosophy professor who serves as the team’s faculty sponsor and head coach. “The competition is always tough, but I feel very good about our chances with this team.  They work hard, they’re very bright, and they have a very good sense about how to compete in an Ethics Bowl.”

All of WSU’s team members are from Ogden: Brandi Christensen and Pieter Sawatzki, both juniors and philosophy majors; senior Anthony Tran, a philosophy and English major; senior Kevin Willardsen, a philosophy and quantitative economics major; and senior John Riley Piccolo, a philosophy major also seeking a Bachelor of Integrated Studies degree in Spanish, mathematics and economics.

The Nov. 12 regional included Carleton College, of Minnesota, plus teams from several Utah institutions: WSU, Westminster College, Utah Valley University, Utah State University, Salt Lake Community College and the University of Utah.

WSU finished second during its most recent national Ethics Bowl competition, in the spring of 2010. Piccolo and Willardsen were members of that team. WSU finished fifth at nationals in 2004, 2007 and 2008.

Several weeks before the national championship event, the teams of three to five members receive a set of cases raising moral dilemmas (for example, indigenous people vs. endangered species) and prepare an analysis of each case. At competition, teams compete head-to-head, with a moderator posing questions to each team about one of the scenarios. Teams have 10 minutes to craft a response, followed by a series of rebuttals by both teams. A panel of judges evaluates and scores each team’s performance and may drill team members about their positions. The teams then reverse roles with a new case and question.

The 16th national competition is part of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics’ 21st annual meeting.

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Richard Greene, faculty sponsor and head coach
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Brice Wallace, office of Media Relations
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