Fordham hosted nearly 100 high school students from 16 schools around the region on Feb. 3 for the third annual New York City High School Ethics Bowl.

The competition, which is organized by Fordham’s Center for Ethics Education, was the first one held in person at Keating Hall on the Rose Hill campus. More than 50 volunteer judges and moderators also attended, most of whom were Fordham graduate and undergraduate students or alumni.

The event is one of a network of regional competitions across the country that are part of the National High School Ethics Bowl. Regis High School, which won the city competition at Fordham, also won the regional competition on Feb. 7 and will be heading to the National High School Ethics Bowl Championship in April in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Infectious Conversations

Monique Cauley, a Fordham College at Lincoln Center senior from Utah, was one of the volunteer judges. Cauley was part of the Fordham team that advanced to the APPE Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl National Championships in December 2022, and found the experience to be so rewarding she happily gave up a Saturday to be a judge for her younger counterparts.

“This kind of ethics is infectious, and it was an experience I was very grateful to have as a college student,” said Cauley, an American studies major.

“It really pushes you to not only hone speaking skills but also reflect on some of the inner dynamics that might be happening in your brain, confront those biases, understand other people’s perspectives, and contribute to a team.”

Using Case Studies

One of her roles as a judge was to listen to teams from Xavier High School and Avenues The World School debate the merits of space exploration led by private-sector companies like Space X. She found real-world case studies to be especially convincing when she judged arguments.

“It shows a student can really connect any ethical issue to their life, and it gives a richer understanding of the topics,” she said.

Tackling Ethical Issues Old and New

Julian Bober, a senior at Regis High School, was on the team that bested Gregorio Luperón High School for Math & Science in the final round. His team’s topic was “Secession and the National Divorce.” It was his third time competing in an ethics bowl and his first in person at Rose Hill.

“It’s collaborative, and you’re also tackling a bunch of really important issues, whether it’s stuff that people have considered for centuries, like the morals of lying, or something brand new; we had a lot of fun discussing a case involving copyright and AI,” he said.

‘Not Just About Digging In Your Heels’

Steven Swartzer, Ph.D., associate director for academic programs and strategic initiatives at the Center for Ethics Education, said only students who’d previously competed in a college ethics bowl were eligible to be a judge.

“Given their experience in the ethics bowl, they understand the importance of making sure you’re seeing things from a lot of different perspectives,” he said.

“It’s not just about digging in your heels and pushing your own argument. It’s about understanding why someone might come to a different conclusion.”

Large group of students seated in an auditorium
The competition brought nearly 100 high school students to the Rose Hill campus.
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Patrick Verel is a news producer for Fordham NOW. He can be reached at [email protected] or (212) 636-7790.