BC regional winners Sands Secondary take on Princess Margaret in the semi-finals.


SFU Philosophy and BC high school teams in first national Ethics Bowl

April 30, 2019

Intellectual improvisation, critical thinking and developing an argument are all key skills for success for resolving ethical conflicts. They’re also important elements in the new BC curriculum, which is why an SFU-based initiative brought volunteer mentors and high school students together in BC’s first Ethics Bowl. Under the guidance of SFU Philosophy professor Nic Fillion, academic philosophers and MA students coached five high school teams in a series of ethical case studies. Fillion describes the competition as similar but more constructive than traditional debate clubs. Instead of winning by skilled opposition, Ethics Bowl encourages dialogue and collaboration—useful skills for global citizens in the 21st century.

Following BC’s first regional heats held earlier this month, Sands Secondary (Delta) and Ideal Mini School (Vancouver) joined eight more experienced Manitoba teams at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg for Canada’s first national Ethics Bowl

Judging in progress.

Preparation for the national Ethics Bowl and its regional heats started early this year as part of an SFU-based initiative to bring critical thinking resources to provincial educators. Fillion coordinated volunteers from university and college philosophy programs at SFU, Douglas College, Toronto, Fraser International College and the University of British Columbia to mentor the high school teams and their teachers. Training involved preparing for ten case studies, tackling ethical issues such as the post-human ethics of banning performance-enhancing implantable devices, and regulating fake news without restraining press freedom.

Five BC high school teams took part in the day-long regional heats on April 13 at SFU Burnaby. Each team faced off against the others in a round-robin format in front of judges. Judges scored according to initial case study presentation, points raised and responses given. According to Fillion, scoring was extremely close and the competition needed a tie breaker to decide the semi finalists. In their fifth hour of competition, and despite one judge giving a tie, Sands Secondary won, beating Ideal Mini School into second place.

The Sands team confers during the national competition heats.

Although neither Sands nor Ideal advanced to the semi-finals of the national competition, Fillion is already planning the second year of BC Ethics Bowl to refine their skills. Manitoba should watch out as BC is coming for the title next year.

Finals venue - the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Winnipeg MB.

Thanks to the BC teams that took part in the regional finals:
• Ideal Mini School, Vancouver (regional runner up)
• Prince of Wales Secondary, Vancouver
• Princess Margaret Secondary, Surrey
• Sands Secondary, Delta (regional winners)
• Vancouver Technical Secondary, Vancouver

Training for the Ethics Bowl covers many of the core competencies in the new BC curriculum such as communication, critical thinking, social responsibility and personal awareness. SFU's Department of Philosophy is already planning for a second year of Ethics Bowl in BC.

Read more about Ethics Bowl in Nic Fillion's competition report here: Ethics Bowl 2019
All images courtesy of Nic Fillion

Take part in the next BC Ethics Bowl - check out the 2019 flyer here: BC Ethics Bowl 2019

Interested in Ethics?

Learn more about the five elective streams available in our Certificate in Ethics: Theory and Application.

About the Certificate

  • Are you interested in ethics and social engagement?
  • Do you like to think about the values and principles that should guide social policy and legislation?
  • Worried about tackling moral dilemmas in your subject area?

All professions increasingly demand ethical training, and for very good reasons. Ethics is about deciding what's the right course of action, and what justifies our beliefs. 

If you would like to study ethical decision making as it relates to your major, then you should consider the Certificate in Ethics. The certificate combines a theoretical foundation in ethical and political philosophy with application to concrete issues in your current major. Courses complement your subject interests and can be completed alongside required courses for your major.

Five concentrations that match your major! With its many streams suited to your career plans, we will offer the ethical theory and practice that will put you one step ahead.

For complete requirements, please see the calendar entry for the ethics certificate.




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