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Ergo | Spring 2016

L&N STEM Academy's winning team in the championship round
L&N STEM Academy's winning team in the championship round

Tennessee High School Ethics Bowl Attracts Record Numbers

Over one hundred students on twelve teams, representing eleven East Tennessee high schools, competed in the seventh annual Tennessee High School Ethics Bowl (THSEB) on Saturday, February 13, at the Holiday Inn World's Fair Park in downtown Knoxville.  This event was one of the largest ethics bowls in the nation, in terms of number of schools participating.  Co-sponsored by the department and the UT Humanities Center, it is an important outreach effort, and its value to the community was recognized this year by a generous three-year gift from Home Federal Bank.

The THSEB, like any ethics bowl, is a collaborative yet competitive event, in which teams analyze a series of wide-ranging ethical issues and then present their ideas to judges and other teams in a fun and friendly atmosphere. This year, topics ranged from making charitable contributions to technological waste and gender identity in healthcare to the criminal justice system.  Alex Feldt was the event's chief organizer.

Judges in the championship round with audience in the background
Judges in the championship round with audience in the background

After a morning of preliminary rounds, ten of the twelve teams met in a semi-final round, with the two schools that had the day's highest cumulative point total competing head-to-head in the championship match.  This year, L&N STEM Academy and Fulton High School engaged in an impressive back and forth in the championship round, with L&N STEM coming out the winning school and headed to Chapel Hill, NC in April for the national competition.  We also recognized Hardin Valley Academy for a third place finish as the highest scoring team not reaching the championship round.  In addition to a trophy, each school took home a cash prize that is intended to help support their ethics bowl teams and philosophical enrichment activities.

In addition to the extremely talented students, the THSEB also brings in a variety of volunteers who serve as judges and moderators for the event.  As always, the department was well represented by undergraduate and graduate students, along with various faculty members.  Additionally, judges' spots were filled by other members of the UT and local community including the Director of Undergraduate Admissions, a Roane State philosophy professor (and UT alum), a sitting judge in Blount County, and both the current and former chief of the Knoxville Police Department.

The THSEB will continue to be a major departmental event, and we are already thinking about next year's competition.  We originally had eighteen high schools express interest, but due to various reasons including a postponement due to weather, we only had eleven at the actual competition.  Based on this interest, we hope to grow and expand our outreach to even more students next year.

More information about the THSEB can be found here or by e-mailing

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