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Catawba College Students Participate in State Bowl Exploring Ethics in a Pandemic

March 5, 2021

Category: Academics, Events, Students

co-hedrick19.pngCatawba College was one of 16 private colleges participating in the 2021 North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities' (NCICU) Annual Ethics Bowl. In this unusual year, the event explored ethical issues relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event, now in its 10th year, was held via Zoom. NCICU is the statewide office for North Carolina's 36 private, non-profit colleges and universities.

The Catawba team represented a broad cross-section of the campus, including students majoring in Politics, History, Economics and Finance, Environment and Sustainability, and Literature. Dr. Norris T. Feeney, Associate Professor of Politics and Associate Director of the College Honors Program, was campus coordinator for the seventh year. Students participating included Bre Eller, Nilya Holcomb, Noah Brass, Paige Carter, Nicholas Trovato, and Katie Webb.

Hope Williams, NCICU President said, "The Ethics Bowl is both an academically challenging and a personally rewarding experience that students look forward to each year. Our campus coordinators were committed to holding the event this year even though it will be a very different format than in the past."

Each Ethics Bowl team consists of four to six students. The campus coordinator works with the students to help them prepare for the competition which typically consists of four rounds over the two-days, plus semi-final and final rounds – all judged by a panel of corporate, community and government leaders. This year, in the virtual setting, each team made presentations on two selected cases. While the presentations were not judged, guests who previously served as judges provided feedback to the teams.

Dr. Feeney said that the transition to a virtual event led to a shift in format from the traditional rounds of competition between teams to presentations and group conversations among multiple teams in virtual "rooms."

"In both sessions, Catawba's team presented answers to ethical questions particularly relevant for North Carolina and global leaders given recent developments in the COVID-19 pandemic," he said. "In the first session, we joined High Point University and Johnson C. Smith University in a discussion of the ethical controversies introduced when considering placement of restrictions on individuals who choose not to receive the vaccine.

"In the second session, we drew on our own experiences at Catawba this year when exploring the ethical responsibilities of K-12 school boards have to provide public education in this lengthy pandemic crisis. In this second session, we talked with teams from the University of Mount Olive, Montreat College, and Mars Hill University."

The NCICU Ethics Bowl is made possible by sponsorships that allow students to participate at no cost to themselves or their institutions.

"Students consistently cite the NCICU Ethics Bowl as a highlight of their college experience," Williams said. "We deeply appreciate the corporate and civic leaders who make this event possible."

Dr. Feeney said, "Catawba remains grateful, as always, to the individuals we see every year as moderators and judges and facilitators and the generous sponsors who continue to provide resources allowing us to have this unique opportunity available for undergraduates.

"We are very grateful to the folks at NCICU who work year-round to ensure we continue to hold this event, and being so adept at pivoting to create whatever format changing circumstances require," he said. "We look forward to participating again next year, and seeing many of the familiar faces in Raleigh."


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