A team of six philosophy students at The University of Texas-Pan American competed in the 1998 South Central Texas Regional Ethics Bowl at St. Mary's University in San Antonio Nov. 14, coming away with high marks for their ability to "think ethics" on their feet.
The UTPA group competed against 14 other teams from colleges and universities throughout the region and came home tied for fifth place, just 1.5 points short of a third-place trophy. In the final round, they defeated the team from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi that eventually took first place.
Participating for UT Pan American were sophomore Jessica Garza of Pharr, senior Princess Garza of McAllen, senior April Gutierrez of Weslaco, senior Blanca Leal of McAllen, junior Esteban Rivera of Mission and senior Frank Sepulveda of Edinburg.
"This was an enormously valuable experience for our students," said Dr. Thomas Pearson, philosophy faculty member at UTPA and one of the coaches of the team. "They can see now how important it is to think carefully and critically about the kind of ethical issues that arise for people every day. They also realize that, as young scholars, they have been equipped at UTPA to do that kind of moral reflection very well."
The format for the competition centered on a dozen case studies in applied ethics, a field that examines the ethical and legal issues that arise in institutional and professional contexts. The case studies included examples from medical ethics, business ethics and social ethics.
Each team was required to respond to two of the case studies, chosen at random, and to provide suitable ethical solutions for the problems. Panels of judges questioned the teams on their responses and then scored each team on the quality, consistency and creativity of their answers.
The UT Pan American students prepared for several weeks in advance of the Ethics Bowl, rehearsing a number of ethical theories and their applications in various situations, coached by Pearson and Dr. David Carter, another UTPA philosophy faculty member.
The Ethics Bowl, based on the concept of the old "College Bowl" television program, will become an annual event, Pearson said, adding that the philosophy program intends to field another UTPA team to participate in the event next year.