Event Reports

2021 British Columbia Ethics Bowl


The 2021 BC Regional High School Ethics Bowl was hosted by the Department of Philosophy at Simon Fraser University on February 20th. Even though the department loves to host participating students, coaches, and volunteers on the beautiful Burnaby campus, we were forced to hold the event online due to the ongoing pandemic. An online platform specifically designed to hold Ethics Bowls was developed collaboratively by the Canadian and the American national organizations. Many thanks are owed to three SFU units that continue to be highly supportive of the event, and who stepped up to fund the entire Canadian share of the cost for the development of the platform: the Dean’s Office of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the Faculty’s Office of Marketing and Communications, and the Department of Philosophy. Many thanks for making this event possible for students across Canada! We would also like to thank the British Columbia Social Studies Teachers Association for their continuing support and for facilitating increasing participation of BC students to the Ethics Bowl.  

An Ethics Bowl is both a collaborative and competitive team event, in which grade 9-12 students study, imagine, criticize, and compare stances and argumentative strategies, within an educationally-enhanced debate structure. The aim of the activity is that participating students develop and demonstrate their ability to critically engage with each other about current ethical issues—social, political, economic, scientific, cultural, and beyond. As opposed to traditional debate structures, in which reactionary opposition to each other and rhetorical flurries are often rewarded, the Ethics Bowl rewards critical listening and the ability to envision other points of views. Instead of being rewarded for digging their heels as the argumentation progresses, debaters may amend their original positions when faced with convincing arguments. Students have opportunities to pose and respond to probing questions from judges with expertise in critical and ethical reasoning, resulting in a deepening awareness of the stakes and principles that animate the discussion.

A record number of 15 teams from 11 schools took part in the event, up from 10 teams in 2020 and 5 teams in 2019. In addition to schools that have been with us since the very beginning—Ideal Mini School, Princess Margaret Secondary, Prince of Wales Secondary, Sands Secondary, and Vancouver Technical Secondary—and schools that were returning for a second time—Fraser Heights Secondary and Rick Hansen Secondary—four new schools took part in this year’s event–Panorama Ridge Secondary, Semiahmoo Secondary, Sutherland Secondary, and University Hill Secondary. We would like to thank the teachers who have volunteered to coach the teams for their fantastic contribution: Jeffrey Aw-Yong, Michael Edmonson, Michael Hughes, Grant Jamieson, Kevin Larkin, John Munro, Tony Lee, Dale Martelli, and Hardip Rakkar.

Many thanks as well to the 75 wonderful students who displayed amazing ability to engage with challenging cases and tackle questions on the following topics: teen vaping, algorithms and AI, toxic masculinity, call-out culture, criminal records, weaponized drones, deep sea mining, Canada as a world power, vaccine distribution, and high school drop outs.

We would also like to thank our outstanding team of volunteer judges and moderators. Most of our 34 volunteers were affiliated with universities and colleges in the region, including Simon Fraser University, the University of the Fraser Valley, Douglas College, UBC (both Vancouver and Okanagan), and BCIT. Specifically, our warm thanks go to: Anastasia Anderson, Michael Bodnar, Michael Bourke, Cody Brooks, Eddie Cai, Anna Cook, Lyle Crawford, Tom Donaldson, Cem Erkli, Jacob Gebrewold, Bruno Guindon, Aaron Mascarenhas, Milos Mihajlovic, Gary Neels, Graham Moore, Stephen Ogden, Lauren Perry, John Perry, Michael Picard, Miranda Pinter-Collet, Madeleine Ransom, Aaron Richardson, Sarah Rossiter, Lisa Shapiro, Evan Tiffany, Dashiell Shulman, Kesavan Thanagopal, Kelsey Vicars, Jenn Wang, Xinyu Xu, and Jenna Yuzwa.

This year's champions (Prince of Wales) and finalists (Ideal Mini School) who will advance to the National.

Matches throughout the day were hotly contested, with every team managing to win at least one of their five matches. The champions of this year’s event had a stunning performance, ending the day with 4 wins and one tie. Congratulations to Prince of Wales Secondary (Team A) for this impressive performance. The runner-up team was Ideal Mini School, ending the day with four wins, conceding a point only to Prince of Wales. Ideal Mini continues their incredible successful streak (2019 finalist, 2020 champions), and Prince of Wales joins other teams in the region who have previously earned titles (Sands as champions 2019, and Fraser Heights as 2020 finalist). Both teams will advance to the National finals, to be held online on April 16-17, 2021. Moreover, congratulations to Princess Margaret Secondary and Sutherland Secondary for sharing bronze. Once again, thank you to everybody who took part in the event and made it so interesting!


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