On Saturday, January 30, the UALR Department of Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Studies hosted the 4th Annual Arkansas High School Ethics Bowl at the Reynolds Center for Business and Economic Development. State Senator Joyce Elliott gave a keynote address on the importance of ethical deliberation and discourse.
At the Ethics Bowl, teams consider and discuss cases drawn from current events, which range from social and political issues (voting rights, capital punishment, gun control), to environmental concerns (sustainable growth and development), to professional worries (hiring practices, workplace safety), to issues arising in the classroom (grade inflation, plagiarism). Emphasis is on reasoning and the ability to engage in civil, rational discourse rather than on persuasion. Teams have a couple of months to prepare the cases, which are disseminated by the National High School Ethics Bowl Executive Committee. Teams do not know the specific question posed for a given case until they face another team, so they must be well prepared. The answers and ensuing dialogue are scored by a panel of three judges recruited from both UALR faculty and staff and local business and organizational leaders.
This year, twelve teams participated, representing nine different schools from across the state: Conway Christian School, Cotter High School, Decatur High School, Episcopal Collegiate School, J. A. Fair High School, Hot Springs High School, Little Rock Central High School, Northside High School, and Joe T. Robinson High School. Little Rock Central took home the championship trophy, and they will represent Arkansas in the National High School Ethics Bowl held at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill in April. The Spirit of the Ethics Bowl Award – voted on at the conclusion of the competition each year by all of the participating students – went to J. A. Fair High School.