Ethics Slam             Ethics Bowl             Case Writing Competition        

MICHIGAN TAKES ON NEW YORK IN THE FIRST EVER “BOWL ONWARD” ETHICS CASE STUDY COMPETITION

MICHIGAN TAKES ON NEW YORK IN THE FIRST EVER “BOWL ONWARD” ETHICS CASE STUDY COMPETITION

Teams from Ann Arbor Huron High and New York’s Bethpage High School Compete in the First Virtual High School Ethics Bowl Follow-up Match

Ann Arbor, MI – The extracurricular, known as “Ethics Bowling” requires learning a venerated subject and acquiring skills, such as analytical reasoning and public speaking, essential in today’s workplace. It can also be addictive. Just ask the 125 high school students who gathered on the University of Michigan campus during February’s Polar Vortex to participate in the sixth annual Michigan High School Ethics Bowl. In years past, this two-day event represented the high point of the Michigan Ethics Bowl Season, with the winning team then heading for the National Bowl at the University of North Carolina. 

But this year, in response to the persistent craving for “ethics discussions ” among high school students, Michigan Bowl organizer A2Ethics decided to extend the Bowl Season by launching a new event, known as “Bowl Onward.”

As A2Ethics’ president and founder Jeanine DeLay explains, “Bowl teams work tremendously hard prior to the state-wide competition. With the help of their high school coaches and philosophy teachers from Michigan universities, including the University of Michigan, Oakland University and Western Michigan University, teams spend months learning about philosophy and ethics to prepare for the event. We decided to create yet another venue that would give interested students, who can’t go the National Bowl, the opportunity to meet other ‘Ethics Bowlers.’ With the help of the U-M Shapiro Design Lab technology staff, we were able to host a virtual ethics discussion between students from Bethpage High in Poughkeepsie, New York, and Ann Arbor’s Huron High.”

The event took place on Thursday, April 11. In addition to A2Ethics, key organizers included two esteemed and veteran social studies teachers and founders of the Ethics Bowl extracurriculars at their schools: Wendy Way, also the philosophy program advisor at Bethpage and Katie Jones, who teaches a popular philosophy course. Another invaluable supporter of the “Bowl Onward” format is Roberta Israeloff, Executive Director of the New York- based Squire Foundation. The Squire Foundation has helped to inaugurate, invest in and support several ground-breaking preK-12 philosophy and ethics initiatives across the country, including the National High School Ethics Bowl.  

“Bowl Onward” was officially launched at 3:45pm, following a warm-up pizza party at the Shapiro Design Lab. During the hour-and-a-half event, the teams enthusiastically and knowledgeably discussed two complex cases from the 2019 National High School Bowl case set. Both focused on moral dilemmas posed by two different  examples of harm reduction policies: gun safety laws for children and supervised drug injection sites.

Team presentations were judged by Brian Coffey, philosophy lecturer at Eastern Michigan University; Gillian Gray, U-M graduate student in philosophy; and Stephen Miller, Humanities Department chair at Oakwood Friends School and adjunct philosophy professor at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

The winner of the event was Bethpage High School. Based on the afterglow discussions—it was clear that there were no losers that day. As Robert Israeloff of the Squire Foundation summed it up, “For ninety minutes the virtual Ethics Bowl erased the distance between Ann Arbor, Michigan and Bethpage, New York. The two teams of nine high school students met online as strangers and signed off as philosophical compatriots. It’s a great way to introduce more students to the rewards and rigors of ethical inquiry and philosophy more generally.”

For A2Ethics, the event was yet another trailblazing initiative in the ongoing work of building a philosophy community—in essence a community within a community—and creating public spaces where people of all ages and backgrounds have the opportunity to discuss ethics.

“Our premiere “Bowl Onward” event was a great test case for us,” says DeLay. “The fact that this virtual approach was so successful is tremendously exciting, because we’re hoping to use this same technology to engage high school students from areas in Michigan that are more remote, and whose students can’t easily travel. By removing these barriers, this digital approach opens up all kinds of possibilities for young people in every part of our state to participate in the Michigan High School Ethics Bowl and really, the entire Bowl Season.”

BACKGROUND ABOUT A2ETHICS AND THE BOWL

Founded in 2008, A2Ethics is an all-volunteer, nonprofit dedicated to promoting ethics and philosophy initiatives through events, educational programs and civic collaborations in local communities. Its many projects and activities include partnering with the University of Michigan Dept. of Philosophy Outreach Program in sponsoring the annual Michigan High School Ethics Bowl.


The Michigan Ethics Bowl League includes all high schools participating in the Ethics Bowl. As of 2019, thirteen schools from 6 SE Michigan counties belong to the state League. All Michigan high schools are encouraged to join the state League and the National Ethics Bowl movement.

For more information, visit www.a2ethics.org or contact Jeanine DeLay at jadelay@a2ethics.org.