Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl

Ethics Bowl team
Team at 2018 Rocky Mountain Regional Ethics Bowl at University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, CO

In essence, ethics bowl is a competitive discussion. Teams compete to give the most accurate, comprehensive, clear, and complete answer to the match question. Each two-match round involves:

  • presenting an initial take on the question at hand (10 mins.)
  • defending it against the opposing team’s critique (5 mins.)
  • responding to questions from a three-judge panel composed of academic and non-academic professionals (10 mins.)

The questions focus on one or more aspects of a case drawn from a set of fifteen cases that teams have worked with for roughly two months prior to competition.

Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl (IEB) is the arm of the Association of Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE) responsible for organizing regional and national competition each year. Regionals are held around the U.S., and colleges and universities self-select which regional they’ll participate in. If a school wins a bid to nationals due to their regional performance, they head to the annual APPE conference/workshop to compete with other bid winners. The University of Nebraska has sent teams to national competition twice since the inception of the UNL Ethics Bowl Team in 2011.

A picture of team members figuring out how to respond to critique in competition
Team discussing how to respond to opposing team's critique during a match at the 2018 Rocky Mountain Regional Ethics Bowl at University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, CO
The 2015 team in Golden, CO
Team at 2015 Rocky Mountain Regional Ethics Bowl at Colorado School of Mines in Golden, CO

Of course, as the saying goes, ‘Winning isn’t everything.’ That certainly rings true in the case of participating in ethics bowl. Preparing for competition significantly develops critical and moral reasoning skills as well as their abilities to speak and reason publicly with an interested community.


  • sharpen their intellect
  • develop their interrogative and contrarian dispositions,
  • deepen their interest in exploring and analyzing complex situations and concepts as well as their ability to do so
  • cultivate the virtue of epistemic humility

Hence, win or lose in competition participants efforts are meaningfully rewarded.

We can always use more Husker excellence!

Are you or someone you know ready to represent the University of Nebraska–Lincoln as a member of the UNL Ethics Bowl Team? Please contact assistant director Adam R. Thompson.


picture of current team member Mary-kate Boyle

Mary-kate Boyle

Major: Philosophy

picture of current team member, Ethan Clinchard

Ethan Clinchard

Majors: Philosophy, political science
Minor: Criminal Justice

picture of current team member, Will Cook

Will Cook

Majors: Journalism, philosophy
Minor: Math

picture of current team member, Kalvin Larson

Kalvin Larson

Major: Accounting
Areas of Interest: Normative ethics

picture of current team member, Dakota Nichols

Dakota Nichols

Major: Theater Design/Technical Production
Areas of Interest: Metaphysics and ethics

picture of current team member, Izzy Stone

Izzy Stone

Major: Psychology
Areas of Interest: Ethics and political philosophy

picture of current team member, Dennis Startsev

Dennis Startsev

Major: Mathematics
Minors: Biological sciences, Russian
Areas of interest: Ethics and logic, metaphysics

picture of current team member, Sam Spencer

Sam Spencer

Major: Entomology
Minor: Biological sciences
Areas of interest: Materialism/physicalism


picture of current Executive Coach, Adam R. Thompson

Adam R. Thompson

Executive coach

Jabran Amanat-Lee

Jabran Amanat-Lee

Head coach

Head coach, Swarnima Kain

Swarnima Kain

Head coach


Ethics Bowl Team
Nationals Team with certificate. Back left to right: Katherine Miller, R. Walker Edwards, Oliver Tonkin. Front left to right: Sarah O'Neill, Mykayla Messing, Kyle Kettler, Clare LaFrance.

UNL Ethics Bowl Team Outranks Duke, Villanova, Gonzaga, and Wake Forrest in Nation Competition

In their first appearance at the Nation Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl Competition, UNL placed 14th out of 32. We're very proud of the team's performance. Not only did we outrank some of the top ranked schools in the nation, Head Coach Clare LaFrance, reported that the team received numerous compliments throughout the competition. The team looks forward to returning to nationals next year after another successful trip to regionals this coming fall.

UNL Ethics Bowl Team Wins A Bid to National Competition Again!!

For the second time in four years of competing, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Ethics Bowl Team won a bid to Nationals after an excellent showing at Regionals in Boulder, CO. On their way, they had the opportunity to compete and win against Colorado State University, Air Force, and The Colorado School of Mines. The team is resting in preparation for another run at Nationals in Costa Mesa, CA in February.

NET Covers Ethics Bowl Team as They Prepare for National Competition

NET, Nebraska's local NPR station, dropped by to catch a glimpse of the Ethics Bowl team in action as they prepared for their run at the National Intercollegiate Competition.

UNL Ethics Bowl team wins its 1st regional competition

For the first time in three years of competing, one of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Ethics Bowl teams won the Ethics Bowl regional competition in Boulder, Colo., last Saturday. Seven teams total competed with UNL sending two. The winning UNL team defeated University of Colorado at Boulder to become one of 10 teams to compete in the 18th national Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl Championship in February.


lockup for UNL Department of Philosophy

For over a decade the Department of Philosophy has generously made room for the Kutak Ethics Center's main office and has financially supported the UNL Ethics Bowl Team and the Ethics and Broader Considerations of Technology Bazaar as well as other ventures. We're lucky to be surrounded by good company and extra lucky to be housed in the home of ethics proper.

lockup for UNL College of Law

Once home of the Kutak Ethics Center (now Ethics Center), the College of Law is a continuing supporter of the center.

lockup for Jan Eric Pusch Charitable Foundation

The Jan Eric Pusch Charitable Foundation generously added the UNL Ethics Bowl Team to their extensive list of excellent causes that they current fund and/or oversee. We couldn't make it to regional competition without them. Thank you!