How was the Ethics olympiad born?



This initiative builds on the very successful Ethics Bowl initiative in the US and Philosothons in Australasia. The National High School High School Ethics Bowl is coordinated by the Parr Centre for Ethics in the University of North Carolina. The Australasian Philosothon is coordinated by the Australasian Association of Philosophy. AAP.


The Ethics Bowl was created by Dr. Robert Ladenson, philosophy professor (emeritus) at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Over many year an "Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl" has been conducted and hosted by Ethics Institutes around the U.S. In 2013 the first National High School Ethics Bowl was co-hosted by the Squire Foundation and the Parr Centre for Ethics at the University of North Carolina and it was a great success. Ethics Bowls are different to Philosothons. While the organization of Ethics Bowl tournaments can vary from region to region, they generally follow a given format. Four to six weeks before the date of the competition, the competing teams, judges, and moderators are given a packet of case studies that present ethical issues to study. The goal for the teams is not to do research on the cases, but to be able to formulate well structured, logical answers to questions asked about the cases. Currently there are thousands of High School students participating in Ethics Bowls throughout the US and in the UK.


An Ethics Olympiad is a competitive yet collaborative event in which students analyse and discuss real-life, and timely, ethical issues. It differs from a debate in that students are not assigned opposing views rather, they defend whatever position they believe is right and win by showing that they have thought more carefully, deeply, and perceptively about the cases in question. Experience shows that the event encourages and promotes ethical awareness, critical thinking skills, civil discourse, international engagement, and an appreciation for diverse points of view.





In 2007 we started a competition in Perth Western Australia called a Philosothon. This involved nine Perth schools. Today over 300 Primary, Middle and Senior schools participate in Philosothons around Australasia. The first National Philsothon took place in Sydney NSW in 2011. Philosothons are also taking place in the UK.


In 2013 a trial was held at Hale School involving US schools in several US states using video conferencing technology and Skype to bring the schools together. The trial was a great success. Thereby the Ethics Olympiad was born and has been run since then annually with a growing number of schools involved. In 2017 the event was opened to Middle and Junior schools using the same format but modified cases.


In 2018 we trialled a new Ethics Bowl format at Scotch College in Melbourne with ten schools participating. This was a great success and in May, 2019 we ran the same format in each capital city in Australia and New Zealand. This was followed up in November with a similar but age specific program of Olympiads for Middle School students. Both programs were very popular and well received with over 1700 participating students. Click here for the results


Professor (Emeritus) Robert Ladenson the founder of the US Ethics Bowl wrote "The Ethics Olympiad makes an exciting and educationally important international experience integral to an academic competition incorporating core elements of both the Ethics Bowl and Philosothon, two innovative approached to teaching ethics hugely popular with students and acclaimed widely by educators. I anticipate great success for the Ethics Olympiad."