Ethics bowls provide students the opportunity to hone their critical-thinking and ethical reasoning skills in a team environment. Participants analyze challenging ethics cases covering timely and contested issues of the day. They identify relevant ethical issues and justify how these issues should be addressed and resolved, before qualified judges. Ethics bowls enjoy over a thirty year history at universities, colleges and high schools across the United States and around the world.
A notable feature of competition is that, unlike a debate tournament, teams need not choose opposing sides. The competition is about the quality of ethical justifications for defending what each team believes is correct, and so teams are free to defend the same conclusion. They are judged on how they develop their underlying justifications and their responses to critique.
The result is a robust dialogue that encourages students to think and communicate clearly and effectively, while practicing civility and consensus building. For a discussion of Ethics Bowl participation and fostering virtues internal to the deliberative practices central to American democratic government, see Robert F. Ladenson, "The Educational Significance of the Ethics Bowl," Teaching Ethics, Vol. 1, no. 1 (2001) pp. 71-75).
The Hoffberger Center has created an active ethics bowl alumni network. If you’ve participated in prior University of Baltimore ethics bowl teams, stay in touch, and please email Daniel Gellasch to connect with participants from across the years.
Each year, the Hoffberger Center organizes a cross-disciplinary ethics bowl team for the Mid-Atlantic Regional competition. In any given year, the team practices multiple times a week for months to prepare for the November event. The UBalt community always looks forward to seeing our students continue their excellent record of success that has drawn generations of students to compete over the last fifteen years.
The competition is one of 12 regional competitions throughout the United States, supported by the Association for Practical and Applied Ethics (APPE), which then hosts an annual National competition drawn from the regional winners.
The next regional intercollegiate ethics bowl competition is scheduled for Nov. 2022. Check back for details.
Recent Past Bowls
2021 Virtual Mid-Atlantic Regional Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl
On Nov. 13, 2021, The University of Baltimore's Ethics Bowl team competed in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl. The event, sponsored by the Hoffberger Center, was a day-long competition where some of the best collegiate teams in the United States went head-to-head on topics such as police reform, climate change, cryptocurrencies and homelessness. The 2021-22 UBalt team, which comprises students from several academic programs, was led by Daniel Gellasch, B.A., ‘21, director of programming and outreach for the Hoffberger Center, and included students Iyana Fulp, Jana Dubinovsky, Oluwanifemi Oduntan, Sarah Bateman, Jeremy Collins, and Anna Williams. The UBalt team ended up winning three out of four rounds in the competition.
2020 Virtual Mid-Atlantic Regional Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl
On Nov. 6 and 7, 2020, The University of Baltimore Ethics Bowl Team participated in the 2020 Virtual Mid-Atlantic Regional Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl Competition. The team went 3-1, besting the University of Mount Olive in the first round, The University of North Carolina in the second round, and the Virginia Military Institute in round three before finally losing an incredibly close bout against the University of Central Florida. The team members were: Jana Dubinovsky, Gabrilla Moreland, Rory Rightmyer, Anna Williams, Tiara Williams and Estrada Yarsay. Daniel Gellasch, B.A. '21, served as the team coach.
2020 National Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl
The UBalt Ethics Bowl team made it to the quarter finals at the 2020 Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl National Competition, held Feb 22-23, 2020 in Atlanta, GA. Of the thirty-six teams who competed from all over the country, the UBalt team finished in the top eight. They won four straight matches before losing in a very close round. However, the team ranked number one overall in terms of most points, most wins (4) and fewest losses (0), outranking teams like Stanford University, Tufts University and the U.S. Naval Academy. The UBalt team members were: Daniel Gellasch, B.A. '21 (captain), Jayla-Rae Foster, Hugh Norko and J.C. Loyd, and Fred Guy, retired director of the Hoffberger Center, served as team coordinator.
Since 2014, the Hoffberger Center has organized the Maryland Regional High School Ethics Bowl, held each year at The University of Baltimore. In 2021 and 2022, this regional bowl has averaged over 15 teams, 40 volunteer moderators and judges, and 250 participants and spectators per year.
This annual event significantly impacts regional exposure to the importance of ethical reasoning and dialogue. Hundreds of students, coaches, parents, and volunteer gather each year to demonstrate their best efforts at thinking carefully about leading ethical challenges in our society and world.
The competition is one of 41 regional competitions throughout the United States, supported by the University of North Carolina Parr Center for Ethics, which hosts an annual National competition drawn from the regional winners.
The next regional ethics bowl competition is scheduled for Feb. 2023. Check back for details.
2022 Maryland High School Ethics Bowl
On Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022, the Hoffberger Center, once again, hosted the Maryland High School Ethics Bowl. This popular and growing regional event brings students from area high schools together to discuss some of the most important ethical issues of the day.
The bowl consisted of three preliminary rounds and a final. In each round, each team was asked a question about one of the 15 or so cases they’ve been studying. They gave a short presentation, the other team responded, and they then rebutted that response. A panel of three judges scored each team on the strength of their arguments, their ability to respond to questions, and their general ethical knowledge.
The aim of the High School Ethics Bowl is to instill in young learners a lifelong love of ethical inquiry and reasoning. Participants not only learn skills like critical thinking, logical reasoning, and good-faith discourse, but they’re also brought into contact with some of the most challenging and high-stakes issues of today, giving them a chance to engage with these topics on a level not always available in their day-to-day education. Learn more about how the High School Ethics Bowl works.
This year, a total 20 teams from 11 schools competed in the bowl, with close to 200 people participating as either team members, coaches, or volunteers. Over 40 volunteers graciously donated their Saturday morning to the event, and included among them members of the Annapolis Rotary Club, The University of Baltimore Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl team members, students, faculty, staff, and alumni, as well as local business leaders and government officials.
2020 Maryland High School Ethics Bowl
On Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, the Hoffberger Center for Professional Ethics hosted the Maryland High School Ethics Bowl. The winning team was Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, who edged out last year's winning team, Gerstell Academy, by just one point. Seventy-six high school students participated in the bowl, and over fifty parents, family members and friends were in the audience. UBalt faculty and Hoffberger Center advisory board members served as judges and moderators for the bowl.
2019 Maryland High School Ethics Bowl
On Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, the Hoffberger Center for Professional Ethics hosted the fifth annual Maryland High School Ethics Bowl. Eight teams from six area schools competed, including: Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, Gerstell Academy, Liberty High School, Mercy High School, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and Sparrows Point High. This year’s winning team was Gerstell Academy (pictured), for the second year in a row.
Community College Ethics Bowl
For well over a decade, the Hoffberger Center sponsored a regional community college ethics bowl. Please email Daniel Gellasch for more information.
Hoffberger Center Events
- Feb. 12: Hoffberger Center hosts Maryland High School Ethics bowl
- Feb. 18: Faculty Reading Group in Ethics
- Feb. 24-27: Conference Presentations at 31st Annual Association of Practical and Professional Ethics
- Feb. 25: Faculty Reading Group in Ethics
- Feb. 28: Faculty Reading Group in Ethics
- Feb. 28: Philosophy Common Hour (meets every other Monday)
- March 4: Faculty Reading Group in Ethics
- March 7: Faculty Reading Group in Ethics
- March 10: Author Meets Critics Series Presents Asst. Prof. Sarah Federman
- March 17: Leadership Luncheon on Ethics and Public Sector Leadership
- April 2022: Panel discussion on The Ethics of Immigration
- May 5: Professor Ravi Thakral, University of Sussex, “Ethics and Language”
- Nov. 14-18: Art and Ethics Week