Students to test their skills at the Second Annual York Ethics Bowl

Students who think they’ve got a good grasp of ethics, along with excellent moral reasoning skills, will have the chance to prove it at the Second Annual York Ethics Bowl, the first of its kind in Canada.

The event, hosted by York’s Calumet College and co-sponsored by the York Centre for Practical Ethics, will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 27, from 2:45 to 8:30pm in the Calumet Junior Common Room, 100 Calumet College.

Right: Scales of justice

That gives undergraduate students over a month to form teams of three to five people to go head to head with other teams, including invited guest teams from the University of Toronto, in this interuniversity ethics case-study competition.

The deadline to enter is Jan. 31 by 11:30am. Registration forms should be date-stamped and handed in to the Master’s Office in Room 235, Calumet College.

The ethics bowl is being touted as a great way to have fun, meet new people and sharpen the mind, not to mention promote practical ethics and encourage interdisciplinary discussion of current ethical issues.

Although a first in Canada, ethics bowl competitions have run successfully in US universities for years.

Here’s how it works:

  • There are eight cases – one to two pages in length – that each team will have the chance to study and practise opposing and defending arguments, three to four weeks ahead of time. Only two out of the eight cases will be randomly selected at the competition. Not even the judges know which cases will be chosen or what questions will be asked.
  • Two opposing teams will face off. The presenting team will be asked one or more questions from a randomly selected case. After conferring for one minute, the team spokesperson will have up to 10 minutes to orally present the team’s answers.
  • The opposing team will have one minute to confer before its team spokesperson will have up to five minutes to offer a rebuttal.
  • The presenting team will have another minute to confer before any of the team’s members can respond for up to five minutes to the second team’s rebuttal.
  • The three judges will also have the opportunity to confer for one minute. They can ask one or more questions of the presenting team for up to eight minutes either before or after the opposing team presents their rebuttal. Any member of the presenting team then has the opportunity to respond to the judges’ queries.
  • The teams will then switch roles for a second round with a different, randomly chosen case. The judges will evaluate the performances of both teams. 

The Second Annual York Ethics Bowl is organized by a group of undergraduate students under the guidance of an academic supervisor.

Teams may be selected on a first-come, first-served basis if there are more teams than there is time for. The competition may be taped for training and/or educational purposes.

For more information on the Second Annual York Ethics Bowl, click here or  e-mail For the registration form, click here.