In a regional competition held December 1, the Buffalo State Ethics Bowl Team tackled such weighty topics as plagiarism, drug legalization, and animal research.
The 10 students served on two teams, presented their opinions with aplomb, and qualified to compete at a national level. At the 17th annual Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl, February 28 in San Antonio, Texas, Buffalo State will challenge 31 other teams selected from 10 regional ethics bowls across the country.
This is the fourth year the Buffalo State team has competed at the regional level but the first time it has advanced to national competition. The group's success is a testament to the determination of the students and to Julian Cole, assistant professor of philosophy and humanities, who coached the team for weeks, noted Kimberly Blessing, chair and associate professor of philosophy and humanities.
“What is remarkable is that Buffalo State was the only state school competing at the regional bowl,” Blessing said. “We competed against all private schools.”
That competition included teams from Colgate University, Dartmouth College, and St. John’s University.
Students were judged on their ability to deploy intricate ethical reasons in addressing a variety of cases from practical and professional ethics—exactly what they are required to do in Philosophy 351: Ethics Bowl, a class Cole developed four years ago. Along with their coursework, the students prepped after class and on weekends. Barbara Olsafsky, a local businesswoman who holds a Ph.D in education policy and leadership, and James Grunebaum, professor emeritus of philosophy, volunteered to help coach and judge practice competitions.
At the regional competition, members of the Association of Practical and Professional Ethics drew cases from current events.
“We didn’t know what questions the students would get,” Cole said. “They had two minutes to formulate their answer and 10 minutes to deliver it. The other team then had one minute to formulate a response and five minutes to deliver it.”
Buffalo State competitors included: Casey Brescia, Sarah Caputi, Troy Allen Caruana, Joshua Demont, Cassidy Karpovage, Daniel Stewart, Eric Szymborski, Jenna Tomasello, William Watkins, and Samantha Wezowicz.