Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

March 9, 2009

Whitworth Team Places in Top Five at National Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl

A team of Whitworth University students tied for fifth place at the annual National Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl, which was part of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics Conference held on March 5, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Whitworth defeated teams from West Virginia University, Marist College, in New York, and Dominican University, in Illinois, to go undefeated in the preliminary rounds. In the quarterfinal round, Whitworth narrowly lost to Clemson University, the defending national champion. This is the first time Whitworth has participated in the national bowl. The Whitworth team competed against 31 other top-scoring teams from 10 regions across the nation.   

In the IEB, a moderator poses questions to teams of three to five students. Questions may concern ethical problems on a wide range of topics. 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.

Prior to the March 5 competition, Whitworth's interdisciplinary ethical-debate team analyzed 15 ethically complex cases pertaining to topics such as media ethics when reporting on business closures, the omission of employment information when searching for jobs, potential conflicts of interest for anthropologists conducting research under military contracts, and the censorship religious materials in prisons. 

In each round of the competition, a panel of judges posed a question about a topic; the teams prepared responses using reasoning, application of ethical theories, and cogent-policy analysis. The teams gave short presentations on their responses and then fielded questions from the judges.

Members of the Whitworth team include communications major Chris Caldwell, philosophy and theology double-major Heather Stevens, philosophy and English double-major Kelly Vincent, and political science and psychology double-major Nicole Holland, all '09, and philosophy and theology double-major Dan Herve '10. The team was coached by Mike Ingram, professor of communication studies and associate dean for faculty development and scholarship, and Keith Wyma, associate professor of philosophy.

Organized by the Illinois Institute of Technology's Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions, the IEB develops students' intellectual abilities and capacities, deepens their ethical understanding, and reinforces their sense of ethical commitment. The IEB has received special commendation for excellence and innovation from the American Philosophical Association and won the American Philosophical Association/Philosophy Documentation Center's 2006 prize for Excellence and Innovation in Philosophy Programs. The format, rules, and procedures of the IEB all have been developed to model widely acknowledged best methods of reasoning in practical and professional ethics.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,600 students, offers 53 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Mike Ingram, professor of communication studies and associate dean for faculty development and scholarship, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4428 or mingram@whitworth.edu.

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.

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