South Carolina High School Ethics Bowl

Bowl Update 2020

There may be confusion in the Iowa Caucuses; however, there was no confusion during the Second Annual South Carolina High Shool Ethics Bowl as 18 teams and 14 advisors moved confidently between classrooms in the Roz (aka the Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts) and Daniel Building, deftly articulating their positions, listening and responding to the other teams, and engaging with judges’ probing questions. From what I saw, and from reports I received throughout the day, the Bowl was conducted in the proper spirit of friendly competition and good sportsmanship. I want to express my sincere thanks to the many students, advisors, judges, moderators, sponsors, volunteers, and audience members who made the day such a success. I hope to see everyone again next year!

West Ashley High School is the winner of the 2020 South Carolina High School Ethics Bowl! Congratulations to advisor John Junge and the whole West Ashley team on their impressive performance.

View the Spartanburg Herald Journal article about the 2020 Bowl, by SHJ reporter Chris Lavender:

Save the Date

The projected date for next year’s Bowl is Saturday, January 23, 2021. Mark your calendars!

West Ashley High School is the winner of the 2020 South Carolina High School Ethics Bowl! Congratulations to advisor John Junge and the whole West Ashley team on their impressive performance.

West Ashley will compete in a virtual playoff match in February 2020 against the winner of the Georgia Regional Bowl. The winner of that contest moves on to the National High School Ethics Bowl Championships to be held at UNC Chapel Hill, April 17-19, 2020.

Rosalind Sallenger Arts Center

Social Media

Connect with us on social media for updates on the Ethic Bowl!

Ethics Bowl and Democracy

Democracy is a form of society that encourages dissent and disagreement -- in government, among citizens, and between citizens and government. Democracy flourishes when dissenting opinions regularly are aired, heard, and responded to. But disagreement is an art form that must be learned. In a healthy democracy, people learn to discuss, debate, and disagree with others without demonizing them.

Ethics Bowl is an exercise in the democratic art of disagreement. Jonathan Ellis and Francesca Hovagimian capture this idea eloquently in a recent Opinion piece for The New York Times that contrasts ethics bowl with speech and debate (“Are School Debate Competitions Bad for Our Political Discourse?”):

“…disagreement is frequent in the Ethics Bowl, and the discussions are spirited. That’s a good thing. After all, spirited dissent and disagreement are hallmarks of a healthy democracy. Disagreement among citizens is inevitable — about politics, morality, education, religion, nearly everything. What’s crucial is how we disagree, and how we converse and deliberate with those with whom we disagree.

It is precisely when we disagree that it is most critical for our thinking to be clear and our dialogue to be charitable and scrupulous. But disagreement is also when we’re most likely to get irritated, defensive and impatient. The more at stake in the conversation, the more difficult it is to remain poised, thoughtful, open to being wrong and ready to acknowledge fair points from the other side.

Disagreeing constructively is a skill — one of the most difficult and important there is. In encouraging students to practice this skill, the Ethics Bowl fosters what may be the most important intellectual virtue of all: openness to changing your mind.”

Participating Schools

Spartanburg Area Schools:

  • Spartanburg High School
  • Dorman High School
  • Spartanburg Day School
  • Byrnes High School
  • Broome High School
  • Chapman High School

Greenville Area Schools:

  • J.L. Mann High School
  • Christ Church Episcopal School
  • Riverside High School
  • D.W. Daniel High School

Charleston Area Schools:

  • West Ashley High School
  • Palmetto Scholars Academy

General Information

What is High School Ethics Bowl?

National High School Ethics Bowl (NHSEB) is a collaborative competition where two teams of students discuss an ethical scenario and interact with a panel of judges. The goal is to present clear, consistent, and critical thinking about the ethical implications of the case, and to engage fruitfully and respectfully with the other team and judges.

Each team is assigned a question that is open to debate, such as “Who should have the power to make medical decisions for minors?” or “When is someone morally praiseworthy for donating money to a charitable cause?” Teams present and defend their position and respond to questions raised by the opposing team and judges. Each team is asked to choose and defend the position they find most plausible, rather than attack or “defeat” the opposing team.

Points are awarded for clarity and consistency, understanding the moral issues at stake, awareness of multiple perspectives, and civil discourse in engaging with others. The winner is the team that gives the most coherent analysis, listens and responds best to questions, and advances the understanding of the ethical issues under discussion.

NHSEB was created in 2012 by the Parr Center for Ethics at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, when it was adapted from Collegiate Ethics Bowl. Questions used in NHSEB are based on a set of regional case studies published each year in early September (see link to 2020 Regional Case Set in the Resources section, below).

How to form a team and register?

The 2020 South Carolina High School Ethics Bowl registration link is live now. Follow the link from the section "Registration" to register your team. The fee is $40 per school as well as the national registration fee of $125. Each team must have between three and seven members, with up to two alternates, and an adviser, usually a teacher at the school. If your school is interested in having two teams, please indicate that on the registration form. In preparation for an ethics bowl match, each team should prepare responses to the 15 case studies issued statewide. This preparation is done from October to January and can consist of both afterschool practices and research and analysis.

Any public or private high school in South Carolina is eligible to participate in South Carolina HSEB. All high school students (grades 9-12) are eligible to participate.

What is an ethics bowl match?

At the start of a match, one of the 15 cases is announced and the first team (decided by coin flip) begins its analysis. The other team then has a chance to ask questions, followed by a 10 minutes Q&A period with the three judges. After 30 minutes, a second case is announced and the process is repeated with the teams in reverse positions. A complete match takes approximately 60 minutes. At the end, judges tally their scores and a winner is announced.

What happens after the Wofford Bowl?

Teams that win a Large Regional Bowl advance directly to compete in the National High School Ethics Bowl Finals, to be held April 17-19,2020, at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Teams that win a Small Regional Bowl (i.e., a bowl with fewer schools participating) must compete in an additional “virtual playoff” (by Skype) against a Small Regional winner from another state to determine which team goes on to the finals. In 2020, Wofford’s bowl will be probably again be designated a “Small” Regional Bowl.


The following links can be used for more education regarding the South Carolina High School Ethics Bowl.


Thank you to our sponsors for making the South Carolina High School Ethics Bowl possible!

Connect, Mary Black Foundation, Milliken & Co., Spartanburg County Public Libraries and Wells Fargo have been integral to the success of our event.


For more information about South Carolina High School Ethics Bowl at Wofford College, including how to register a team for the Wofford bowl, please contact:
Dr. Stephen Michelman
Chair, Department of Philosophy, Wofford College

For information concerning sponsorships and donation to SCHSEB, contact:
Mary Helen Wade
Community liaison

For other details about the ethics bowl, including driving directions to Wofford and parking information, contact:
Joyce Blackwell
Administraive Assistant, Wofford College