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VWU Ethics Bowl Team Earns Runner-up Honors

Deliberating Ethics and Social Justice, the VWU team won all four of its rounds

University News | February 12, 2019

The Virginia Wesleyan University Ethics Bowl Team brought home the runner-up trophy at the conclusion of yesterday’s Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges’ (VFIC) 20th annual statewide collegiate Wells Fargo Ethics Bowl, hosted on the campus of Roanoke College in Salem, VA.

For the second year in a row, the Virginia Wesleyan team won all four of its rounds.  2019 team members Brandon Foster, 19; Anitra Howard ‘22; Alex Powers ’21 (team captain); and Brianna Sandy, ‘21 bested Emory & Henry, Roanoke College Team 2, Sweet Briar College, and Shenandoah University, to become winners of the Cardinal Division.  They then faced Washington and Lee, victor of the Commonwealth Division, in the championship round.  Although Washington and Lee won the final round and this year's Ethics Bowl, Virginia Wesleyan made a strong showing, finishing as the 2019 runner-up. 

Professor of Communication Kathy Merlock Jackson serves as faculty coordinator for the team, assisting them in preparing for the event. Part of their preparation included a demonstration for the VWU campus community on February 7, where the audience had the opportunity to interact, critique and discuss the topic with the team.

"This year's Ethics Bowl team members brought a rich diversity of experiences and identities to the table," noted Jackson. "Ranging from freshman to senior, they represented majors in social work, criminal justice, psychology, political science, and mathematics.  They were able to argue social justice issues with thought and precision, reflective of multiple perspectives."
During the statewide event, February 10 and 11, the VWU team deliberated on a variety of case studies highlighting ethical dilemmas illustrated by the topic “Ethics and Social Justice.” They competed head-to-head against other highly qualified student teams from Virginia’s 15 leading independent colleges and universities.
"The members of this year's team really clicked," said Jackson. "They respected one another's strengths and abilities and exemplified the essence of teamwork. Our team excelled not only because of its ability to argue for what is right, just, and good but more importantly to offer creative compromises, taking into consideration both short-term and long-term solutions, to difficult ethical problems."
Virginia Wesleyan won the very first VFIC Ethics Bowl in 2000, deliberating the topic of “Ethics and Society.” In 2014, the VWU team was awarded runner-up, deliberating on the topic of “Ethics and Health Care.” The full historical list of Ethics Bowl topics and winners is on the VFIC website. The event was last hosted on the Virginia Wesleyan campus in 2017.
The VFIC Ethics Bowl program was first conceptualized in 1997 by the VFIC Ethics Task Force, co-chaired by Roger Mudd, History Channel - Journalist (retired) and VFIC trustee, and Phillip Stone, President of Bridgewater College (1994-2010). The mission of the task force was to explore opportunities to involve students at the 15 VFIC colleges in the lively debate and consideration of applied ethics—real world dilemmas that affect people's lives in increasingly complex ways. Today, VWU President Scott D. Miller and Professor of Philosophy Steven Emmanuel serve on the statewide Ethics Bowl Committee.
Founded in 1952, the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges is a nonprofit fund-raising partnership supporting the programs and students of 15 leading independent colleges in the Commonwealth: Bridgewater College, Emory & Henry College, Hampden-Sydney College, Hollins University, Mary Baldwin University, Marymount University, Randolph College, Randolph-Macon College, Roanoke College, Shenandoah University, Sweet Briar College, University of Lynchburg, University of Richmond, Virginia Wesleyan University, and Washington & Lee University.