Bringing Ethics Out of the Classroom

The National High School Ethics Bowl is a beloved event - whether virtual or in-person

Alex Richardson stands behind a window that reads Parr Center for Ethics

The National High School Ethics Bowl is a beloved event - whether virtual or in-person

Is it okay to “ghost” someone you’ve been dating? What is the value of objectivity in journalism? How should government officials communicate information about COVID-19?

These questions are just a few of the topics presented to students during the National High School Ethics Bowl (NHSEB), a program that hosts regional bowls and a national event each April in which teams discuss real-life ethics. The program is part of the Parr Center for Ethics in Carolina’s Department of Philosophy.

During its inaugural year (2012-13), NHSEB oversaw 11 regional competitions with about 1,000 students participating. In 2021, the program hosted 40 regional competitions with nearly 4,000 students taking part.

“For a program that is less than 10 years old, it’s grown like wildfire,” said Alex Richardson, who joined the Parr Center as director in fall 2019.

Lauren Haines saw a flyer for the National High School Ethics Bowl during her first year of high school. She participated in the event all four years of high school. When she came to UNC in 2019, she continued to be involved as a mentor.

“I think the social aspect of the ethics bowl is so valuable,” Haines said. “It teaches students how to argue in an accessible way and how to approach people who might disagree with you.”

Haines says involvement in the program helped her learn how to translate scientific jargon into language that is clearer for a broader audience.

“I write for an artificial intelligence and data science company now,” she said. “I don’t think I’d be able to do it if I didn’t have that language practice from the ethics bowl.”

Learn more about the National High School Ethics Bowl…Opens in new window

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