North Carolina High School Ethics Bowl
January 27, 2024
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
The Parr Center for Ethics is proud to have been home and host to the North Carolina High School Ethics Bowl since its foundation in 2012. As a qualifying Regional Competition of the Parr Center’s National High School Ethics Bowl program, the NCHSEB makes use of the same format, rules, and regulations as the NHSEB. After the Regional Competition (usually in January) the NCHSEB’s winner annually advances to the NHSEB Southeastern Divisional Playoffs hosted by the Parr Center via NHSEBOne. Winners of Divisional Matches will advance to the NHSEB National Championship held in Chapel Hill each April. For more information on the NCHSEB, or for assistance starting a team at your school, please contact NCHSEB Organizer, Dr. Alex Richardson.
An Ethics Bowl is a competitive yet collaborative event in which students discuss real-life ethical issues. In each round of competition, teams take turns analyzing cases about complex ethical dilemmas and responding to questions and comments from the other team and from a panel of judges. An Ethics Bowl differs from a debate competition in that students are not assigned opposing views; rather, they defend whichever position they think is correct, provide each other with constructive criticism, and win by demonstrating that they have thought rigorously and systematically about the cases and engaged respectfully and supportively with all participants. Data from program surveys shows NHSEB participation teaches and promotes ethical awareness, critical thinking, civil discourse, civic engagement, and an appreciation for multiple points of view. In short, NHSEB’s goal is to do more than teach students how to think through ethical issues: It is to teach students how to think through ethical issues together, as fellow citizens in a complex moral and political community.
How Ethics Bowl Works
|Ethics Bowl matches feature two teams meeting head-to-head to discuss and evaluate case studies which feature tricky moral questions or dilemmas. These cases typically come from one of the NHSEB’s annually released Case Sets—one for Regional Competitions, and one for the National Championship each April. Each match will also have three judges and one moderator in attendance, and spectators are encouraged to join in as well.
To open the first half of the match, copies of the first case and question will be distributed to the judges and teams. The moderator will then read the case number, title, and a question for competition. Neither judges nor the teams will know in advance which case will be presented or which question will be asked. The first half then proceeds as follows:
- Moderator Period: A moderator will start the match by introducing a case from the set (which students have prepared with in advance) and asking a question that the discussion will address (which they have not).
- Presentation Period: After the case and question are introduced, Team A will have up to two minutes to confer, after which any member(s) of Team A may speak for up to five minutes in response to the moderator’s question, based on the team’s research and critical analysis. Team A must address the moderator’s question during the time allotted.
- Commentary Period: Next, Team B will have up to two minutes to confer, after which Team B may speak for up to three minutes to comment on Team A’s presentation.
- Response Period: Team A will then have up to two minutes to confer, followed by three minutes to respond to Team B’s commentary.
- Judges’ Period: The judges will then begin their ten-minute question and answer session with Team A. Before asking questions, the judges may confer briefly. Each judge should have time for at least one question, and may ask more questions if time permits.
|This process will repeat in each respective half of the match, with the teams switching places (i.e., the team which presented in the first half will play the commenting role in the second, and so on). Upon the conclusion of each half of the match, judges will score each team based on the following criteria.*
Full Scoring Criteria Sample Score Sheet
* For a full account of all NHSEB procedures and guidelines, see the current NHSEB Rules Manual and other supporting documents. You can also see things for yourself, and check out a full Ethics Bowl match in action here.
Ethics Bowl and Debate
While the Ethics Bowl activity may look similar to various speech and debate formats from a distance, the core skills and values emphasized by the National High School Ethics Bowl are quite different than those emphasized in debate. Here are a few key differences between the activities:
- The Ethics Bowl format takes great care to emphasize high school students’ developing moral and political agency with respect to their own views, beliefs, and judgments. Unlike in many forms of speech and debate, students participating in an Ethics Bowl are not assigned particular propositions to defend, and the case-based design of the format de-emphasizes “pro vs. con” reasoning in favor of complex issues which are nuanced, multi-faceted, and admit of many forms of reasonable disagreement. The views that students end up advancing in response to these case prompts—and, importantly, their reasoning for the claims involved—are entirely of the students’ own design and development. This element of the format designed to take seriously students’ role as serious moral thinkers in their own right, and as sources of authentic claims and knowledge in their communities.
- Debate formats are often adversarial in nature, focusing on subduing the opposing position with superior rhetoric or argumentation. Rather than this kind of approach which prioritizes rhetoric, the Ethics Bowl prioritizes underlying reasoning in a collaborative format. The goal, rather than “winning the argument” in the conventional sense, is to work with the “opposing” team to move toward a solution or analysis of a case which is true or reasonable, or has the benefit of generating new ways of thinking about an issue. This approach is meant to model deliberative, non-adversarial democratic decision making—a project-based task geared toward learning together, navigating disagreement, and building consensus where possible. Rather than on the extent of their persuasiveness where judges are concerned, students are evaluated on the structural quality of their reasoning, sincere and empathetic engagement with the reasonable views of their peers, and their grappling with tough and nuanced issues. In this way, Ethics Bowl balances its competitive and collaborative aims.
- Unlike in some forms of debate, but very much like in life, changing your mind in response to new considerations or arguments is not, on balance, a bad thing in Ethics Bowl. Rather than indicating that a participant is insufficiently committed to the task or analysis, responsibly shifting or revising one’s position can clearly illustrate the collaborative process of learning and truth-seeking that lies at the heart of the Ethics Bowl format, and of democratic deliberation.
For a detailed treatment of the key differences between Ethics Bowl and Debate, see Robert Ladenson, “The Educational Significance of the Ethics Bowl,” in Teaching Ethics, Kyle Robertson, “Debating Democracy: Building Argument Programs for Good Citizenship” in Roberta Israeloff and Karen Mizell, eds., The Ethics Bowl Way: Answering Questions, Questioning Answers, and Creating Ethical Communities, and Marcia McKelligan, “Coaching: Winning Isn’t Everything,” also in The Ethics Bowl Way.
General Itinerary for January 27, 2024*
|8:00-8:30AM||Continental Breakfast and Team Check-In||Location TBA|
|8:00-8:45AM||Onsite Judge Check-In / Onsite Moderator Check-In||Location TBA|
|8:30-8:45AM||Welcome Remarks for Teams||Location TBA|
|9:00-10:05AM||Preliminary Round 1||Various (see Match Assignments)|
|10:20-11:25AM||Preliminary Round 2||Various (see Match Assignments)|
|11:40-12:45PM||Preliminary Round 3||Various (see Match Assignments)|
|2:00-3:05PM||Preliminary Round 4||Various (see Match Assignments)|
|3:00-4:00PM||Coffee/Snack Refresh||Location TBA|
|3:30-3:50PM||Elimination Announcement||Location TBA|
|4:00-5:05PM||Semi-Final Round||Various (see Match Assignments)|
|5:15-6:20PM||Championship Round||Location TBA|
|6:20-6:50PM||Awards Ceremony||Location TBA|
* This preliminary itinerary is tentative and subject to change.
Getting Around at NCHSEB 2024
|The 2024 North Carolina High School Ethics Bowl will be held primarily in the center of the UNC Campus, and the exact buildings and classrooms will be announced in late 2023. The event will run in close proximity to campus’s well-known sights like the Old Well, the Bell Tower, and Kenan Stadium. The area is also convenient to Franklin Street and major attractions in downtown Chapel Hill. The area is serviced by Chapel Hill Transit’s (free and reliable) bus routes.
Event parking for participants and volunteers is available at the nearby Ram’s Head and Bell Tower Parking Decks.
If you find yourself lost, have questions, or require any assistance, Parr Center staffers are available to help. Please visit NCHSEB HQ during the event, or call/text our Event HelpDesk at 919.480.8811.
Forms Required for Competition
The following three forms are required for all participants and schools. Please complete these forms no later than January 17, 2024. You may direct any questions or concerns about team forms to the Parr Center team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roster Submission (One per team; Online): Each coach should fill out our Roster Submission Form in advance of the event. This allows us to have coach and emergency contact information on file, as well as collecting some basic information on each of your participating students. In addition to the names of those students who will compete at the event, you should provide each student’s email address and their date of birth so that we may register them as program participants with UNC’s Office for the Protection of Minors. Please keep in mind that only 7 students can officially be on a team’s official roster, while 3-5 of these students can be seated in any match.
Team Authorization Form (One per team; via Email): This form should be completed by the team’s high school administration (principal/vice-principal/headmaster/dean) and returned via email to email@example.com. It is designed to indicate that the high school administration is fully aware of an ethics bowl team/club/organization, the coach, and students who will represent the high school at the North Carolina High School Ethics Bowl. A coach may fill out the information on the form, but the signature needs to be from a school administrator.
Participant Release Form (One per participant; Online): Every student participating in the NCHSEB must complete this standard permission form for UNC-based events. Students who are under the age of 18 will need a parent or guardian’s signature. This includes students who are competing as well as students who are joining in as alternates and/or to show their fellow students support.
Eat Like a Local: Recommendations from Parr Heels
While breakfast and lunch will be provided to all participants in the NCHSEB, you’ll have a chance to explore Chapel Hill on your own for dinner while you’re here. To help out, we’ve asked the Parr Center’s Undergraduate Ethics Fellows to curate a list of their favorite local spots:
209 South Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27514
No college campus is complete without a bagel place! Alpine Bagel is central to UNC campus life, both physically and in spirit, as it is located within the Student Union next to the Pit and the Student Store. A daily stop for many UNC students, Alpine Bagel has every kind of bagel imaginable, which can be ordered plain or as a part of one of their many bagelwich options.
128 E Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Cosmic is a favorite of Chapel Hill students for three reasons: it is open very late, it is extremely cheap, and it is very nearly on campus. This restaurant lacks ambiance but makes up for it with tasty Mexican food served late. Favorites include the quesadillas, mini burritos (which are sufficient for a light meal) and the chips and queso. Cosmic offers a variety of vegan and vegetarian options and is best for take-out and a quick meal. I go here at least once a week, often after a night out with friends. One of my friends recently graduated and moved to New York City and says he misses Cosmic more than anything else in North Carolina except for his dog.
370 E Main St STE 190, Carrboro, NC 27516
Cham Thai boasts a warm and welcoming environment in downtown Carrboro. This means it’s not too close to campus, but is only a 3 minute car ride or 7 minute bus ride away. Their curries and noodle dishes are exceptional, but take their heat warnings seriously. The “medium” rated curries are quite spicy, and this is from someone who can handle their heat! Their spring rolls are very tasty. Ask for a side of their pepper sauce, which is tangy, spicy, and sweet and goes very well on their pad thai. Their lunch specials are cheap and their portions are generous; this is a great spot for lunch or dinner, but be aware: they close early (8:30pm) and are closed on Tuesdays.
140 W Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Que Chula, while a newer addition to Franklin Street, has proved to be a main staple for both locals and UNC students. The colorful decor, welcoming staff, and delicious food all serve to make for satisfied patrons. While I personally would recommend the ACP (Arroz con Pollo), you can’t go wrong with their tacos. For those of you over the age of 21, Que Chula also hosts a number of tasty cocktails.
508A W Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Located further down Franklin Street towards Carborro, Pho Happiness is a great and affordable spot to grab a hot and soothing bowl of pho. The walls of the restaurant are lined with quirky pho-n puns, and the menu carries some non-traditional pho options such as curry pho, for those looking to step out of their comfort zone. Feel free to try some bubble tea while you’re there!
203 E Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Ask any UNC student – Linda’s is one of the best spots for food when you’re craving something later in the night. The vibes are incredible and food is even better – grab some loaded fries, or a Linda’s combo basket, for when you need a pick-me-up. Serving classic American food and “drunchies” all day until 11pm, Linda’s is a must-visit for anyone in Chapel Hill. As a bonus – time your visit right and you might come across the owner’s handsome and friendly dog!
107 N Columbia St., Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Buns has the most creative array of meat and plant-based burgers! You can also get some delicious sweet potato fries! The interior has the vibe of a cozy diner. I would recommend grabbing a counter seat near the window for the full effect.
Dame’s Chicken and Waffles
147 E Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC 27514
If you’re looking to support a Black-owned business (or just looking to get an AMAZING meal), head over to Dame’s! The inside has a cute, homey feel with New Orleans jazz posters and music heightening the southern ambiance. Not to mention, the staff are probably the kindest people you’ll ever meet! For those plant-based folks, Dame’s has an incredible vegan waffle and plant-based chik’n. It’s a little pricier than some other places in Franklin, but worth the cost in both taste and how filling it is. P.S. According to the staff, the vegan waffle is the best thing on the menu—it’s made with applesauce and soy milk, making it super thick, fluffy, and sweet!
109 E Franklin St.
Epilogue is an independent bookstore and coffee shop with lots of snacks like chocolate, churros, and pastries. Their horchata and coffee is amazing, particularly their mochas and flavored syrups made in-house, which include the popular flavors blueberry lavender, Mayan spice, and dulce jalapeño. I recommend an orange peppercorn mocha if the syrup is in season! This is a good place for first dates, snacks, and chats with friends surrounded by a bright and bustling environment filled with books, the heavenly smell of melting chocolate and coffee, and half the UNC student body. Never fear, the line moves quickly despite their usual busyness!
YoPo (Yogurt Pump)
106 W Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC 27514
This place is a literal hole in the wall. Tucked against the corner of N.Y. Pizza, they have a great selection of frozen yogurt and sorbet. On top of that, they frequently have topping discounts or size upgrade deals.
145 E Franklin St.
A classic among college students and campuses everywhere, Insomnia Cookies is the go-to for UNC students for warm, freshly baked cookies delivered anywhere on campus at 2am. Favorites include chocolate peanut butter cookies (with full peanut butter cups inside!), snickerdoodles, and red velvet cookies.
The North Carolina High School Ethics Bowl is powered by volunteer Judges and Moderators. The claim that we couldn’t do it without your help is no exaggeration! Our volunteers are crucial to providing a great learning experience in constructive moral discussion for the best and brightest high school students from across North Carolina.
As a Judge, you will play a crucial role in helping students reason ethically about a wide variety of challenging issues and engage productively in contexts of disagreement. Unlike typical debate competitions, Ethics Bowl rewards students for the depth and breadth of their thought, their ability to think carefully about complex problems, and the consideration they display of the diverse perspectives of their peers. Judges will evaluate individual matches using these criteria, and engage in Q&A sessions with each team during matches to which they are assigned. No prior or specialized training is necessary to volunteer as a Judge.
As a Moderator, you will play a crucial role in setting up and running individual match rooms, and providing students a fruitful, fun, and inclusive space for constructive conversation. Moderators set the agenda (case, question, etc.) for each match, keep time, and enforce the NHSEB’s rules. As is the case with Judges, no prior or specialized training is necessary to volunteer as a Moderator (though previous Ethics Bowl experience is a plus).
You can use these resources to prepare for your role as a Judge at the NCHSEB. They include a playlist of training videos compiled by the Parr Center team, our JudgeKit package from NHSEBAcademy (which includes our official Rules Manual and plenty of other helpful resources to help you acclimate to the role), our criteria for scoring, and a sample score sheet. Match administration features for this year’s event will be handled by NHSEBOne’s new Companion Mode, on a “bring your own device” basis. The software experience is now optimized for smartphones, but you are welcome to bring along a larger screen such as a tablet or laptop computer. You can watch the walkthrough below to learn more about the NHSEBOne’s scoring interface. You can view the 2023-2024 Regional Case Set here.
You can use these resources to prepare for your role as a Moderator at the NCHSEB. They include a sample Moderator Script and our 2023-2024 Rules Manual. Match administration features for this year’s event will be handled by NHSEBOne’s new Companion Mode, on a “bring your own device” basis. The software experience is now optimized for smartphones, but it may be helpful for moderators in particular to bring along a larger screen such as a tablet or laptop computer. You can watch the walkthrough below to learn more about the NHSEBOne’s Moderator interface. Additional training resources including a live training session with Parr Center staff will be made available in early 2024. Case pairings and questions will be shared with all Moderators confidentially when the competition begins.
Rules and Resources
As a qualifying Regional Competition of the National High School Ethics Bowl program, the NCHSEB makes use of the same format, cases, and rules as the NHSEB. The 2023-2024 NHSEB Rules Manual and Regional Case Set are available below. Please review both of these documents in preparation for the North Carolina High School Ethics Bowl.
NHSEB Rules Manual 2023-2024 Regional Case Set
For resources to aid in preparing for the 2024 NCHSEB, please visit NHSEBAcademy: an online space for learning about and around the National High School Ethics Bowl. There, you’ll find a library of static resources in various formats (print, graphic, etc.), a growing collection of informational and instructional videos produced and curated by NHSEB HQ, opportunities for live, on-demand coaching assistance or practice scrimmages with UNC-based Ethics Bowl coaches via our Studio Hours initiative, and an annual series of events for NHSEB students, coaches, and community members: NHSEBAcademy Live. If you would like to take advantage of coaching assistance, but are unable to book appointments via NHSEBAcademy Studio for any reason, please contact us, and we’ll be happy to assist you in finding a time for site visits (F2F or virtual) with a UNC-based volunteer.
Rule Updates for 2023-2024
The NHSEB Rules Council and Executive Committee have approved the following changes to NHSEB’s Official Rules for 2023-2024. All are fully detailed in their respective context in the Rules Manual at the pages and sections cited:
- Conferral Times: The Rules Council has elected to return conferral times to their pre-pandemic state, but to keep consistency across periods, all conferral times will now be up to two minutes rather than the previous three minutes. Organizers and Moderators should implement this change across all events in 2023-2024 (6).
- Speaking Cutoffs: When a team’s speaking time expires, the Rules Council has now formalized a ten second pause to allow teams to finish their remarks. Organizers and Moderators should implement this change across all events in 2023-2024 (8).
- Sanctions for Rule Violations: While it is the hope and expectation of NHSEB HQ that all teams will comply with the Organization’s rules as published, rule violations, whether intentional or otherwise, do occasionally occur. The NHSEB Rules Council, has developed and approved new sanction procedures for implementation in 2023-2024 (24).
Rankings and Tie-Breakers
At the North Carolina High School Ethics Bowl, each team will participate in four preliminary matches, with teams assigned to matches by random draw. At the end of the fourth round, teams will be ranked by the number of wins (0-4). When two or more teams have the same number of wins, the following tiebreakers will be exercised, in this order of operations:
- Lowest number of losses (so a team that has 2 wins, 1 tie, and 1 loss will rank higher than a team with 2 wins and 2 losses)
- Highest number of Judge votes (over the course of four rounds, a team has the opportunity to win the votes of 12 Judges. If two teams finish with 4 wins, but one team has 11 Judge votes and the other has 10, the team with 11 votes is ranked higher)
- Greatest point differential over all four matches (If two teams have 3 wins and 1 loss and 9 Judge votes, and Team A has a total point differential of +30 [winning two matches by 12, winning one match by 10, and losing one match by 4] while Team B has a point differential of +28 [winning one match by 11, winning two matches by 9, and losing one match by 1], Team A will be ranked higher in the standings).
- Highest point total over all four matches.
- A coin toss.
If they occur in Preliminary Rounds, ties will be noted in the official record as such (e.g, a tie result with Judges’ votes split, 1.5-1.5). In Elimination Rounds, in accordance with NHSEB rules, Judges will be explicitly instructed to avoid awarding ties insofar as possible. In cases of ties during elimination matches, the NHSEB Director will implement the application of the cumulative tie-breaker procedure as defined above.
For more information about scoring and ranking procedures, please review the NHSEB Rules Manual.
During the North Carolina High School Ethics Bowl, limited scoring data (i.e, the voting result and teams’ point totals) will be provided to coaches at the end of each match. Data from all match rooms will be compiled and certified by the event organizers, and posted on a publicly available leaderboard after each Preliminary Round. Public announcements will be made by Parr Center staffers when rankings are made for team eliminations. Full scoring breakdowns, as well as individual Judges’ (anonymized) score sheets and written comments, will be made available after the competition has concluded. Individual score sheets will not be made available between Preliminary and Elimination Rounds during the NCHSEB.
After all competitive rounds of the NCHSEB have concluded, we’ll gather all participants for our Awards Ceremony. At that ceremony, we’ll look forward to awarding the following prizes:
|The North Carolina High School Ethics Bowl’s Spirit Award has been named for Jamie Hysjulien, a long-time NCHSEB coach from the Carolina Friends School who passed away in 2019. Jamie exemplified our central values and ideals well, and the Parr Center is proud to give this year’s award in his honor. The Hysjulien Award will go to the team which best embodies the spirit and ideals of the Ethics Bowl, as voted on by all teams participating in the NCHSEB. The criteria include: (1) Respect, civility, and courtesy for others, both during the rounds and informal discussion; (2) Thoughtfulness, in terms of expressing their positions and commenting on other teams’ presentation; and (3) Sportsmanship, in terms of valuing collaboration above competition. Ballot information will be provided to participating students on the morning of the event.|
NCHSEB Ranking Awards: The North Carolina High School Ethics Bowl Champion will be recognized, as well as a second-place “Runner Up” finisher. The winner of the NCHSEB will advance to compete in NHSEB’s Southeastern Divisional Playoffs in February.
Fall Skills Workshop
The Parr Center for Ethics is proud to announce the first annual Skills Workshop for the North Carolina High School Ethics Bowl. Please join us from 5:30-8PM on the evening of October 17, 2023 on the UNC Chapel Hill campus for an Ethics Bowl Skills Workshop for students and coaches, followed by concurrent scrimmage matches for teams participating in the NCHSEB. This event is a great way to meet fellow Ethics Bowlers from around the state, talk over new Ethics Bowl cases, and hone your competitive or coaching skills. Workshops are open to all participants in the North Carolina High School Ethics Bowl for the 2023-2024 academic year. Eight (8) slots for scrimmage matches are available on a first-come, first-served basis (with teams beyond the eighth welcome to spectate the matches). This special weeknight event will be held in Caldwell Hall. Free parking is available adjacent to the building, and snacks/drinks will be provided for participants. Space is limited, so register your team today!
[3 scrimmage spots remaining as of 9/22/23]
|5:30-5:45PM||Welcome||Caldwell Hall, 105|
|5:45-6:30PM||Student Breakouts — Case Brainstorms with Facilitators||Caldwell Hall, 103, 105, 106A, 207|
|5:45-6:30PM||Coach Breakouts — Strategy, Q&A Session with NHSEB Staff||Caldwell Hall, 208|
|6:30-7:30PM||Practice Scrimmages (4 Concurrent Matches)||TBA (Various Classrooms)|
|7:40-8:00PM||Debrief/Discussion, Wrap-Up||Caldwell Hall, 105|
The North Carolina High School Ethics Bowl would not be possible without our partners and sponsors. If you are interested in giving to the NCHSEB or inquiring about other opportunities for support, please contact the Parr Center for Ethics or call (919) 843-5641.