Currently Watching: The Ethics Bowl

Currently Watching: The Ethics Bowl

By Marcia Quackenbush | February 7, 2017
Senior Editor, ETR

How do we keep youth engaged in school and community? How do we help them think critically about the issues that affect them? How can we help them raise their voices and speak out as effective citizens? I believe we have reached a time in our history as a nation where these are some of the most important skills we can offer young people.

Education experts have suggested a range of answers to these questions. I recently learned about an approach that is truly promising: Ethics Bowls. Of course, I’d heard about debate competitions, where participants are randomly assigned to argue one side or the other of a position. But I’d never heard of these competitions where students actually argue and defend personal opinions about real and relevant ethical issues.

Data shows that these events help teach and promote ethical awareness, critical thinking, civil discourse and civic engagement. That’s impressive!

A Story Worth Watching

The Center for Public Philosophy at University of California, Santa Cruz, has been bringing Ethics Bowl opportunities to high school students in our local community—not just the students who are already on a track to success, but students who haven’t had opportunities to express themselves and be heard at this level.

The Center’s recently released video, The Ethics Bowl, is a beautiful and moving story about just such a student. I am so happy to see the young people in this video discover the importance of raising their own voices and speaking to what they believe.

I hope you’ll take a look—it was an inspiring watch for me!


Marcia Quackenbush, MS, MFT, MCHES, is Senior Editor at ETR and enjoys a good philosophical discussion on just about any topic. She can be reached at


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