Alumni Hall was buzzing with activity on Saturday, January 27, 2024, when the Center for Ethics in Society hosted the fifth annual Ken Goodchild Ethics Bowl. Over 120 students from 11 high schools were in attendance for this regional event, some travelling from as far as upstate New York. In addition, several Saint Anselm students and faculty volunteered as judges throughout the day.

Students from Franklin Academy participating in the Ethics Bowl

“I was especially impressed this year with the high school students' thoughtfulness and curiosity about each ethical case study,” said Hannah Beaudry ‘21, the Center’s assistant director of programming & student engagement. “They are very capable of working through difficult issues with civility and compassion, and I am happy to see many of them grow from one year to the next.”

The championship round was between Franklin Academy (Malone, N.Y.) and Nashua High School South, from Nashua, N.H., with Franklin Academy ultimately winning the final round. This was especially gratifying to the students and staff, because Franklin Academy has attended the competition for years and always makes it to the semifinals or finals but had never won the championship. They will now advance to the divisional round against the winner of the Boston regional competition.

In an Ethics Bowl competition, participants work collaboratively in small teams to analyze cases, formulate a stance, and subsequently present their perspectives to the larger group. Judges evaluate the presentations, determining the most compelling based on adherence to the four principles of ethical dialogue. To excel, students must explore the core moral dilemmas of the case, provide reasoned justifications for their stance, express their position clearly, and address potential counterarguments.

High schoolers participating in the Ethics Bowl

Several students attended the Ethics Bowl for the very first time and were excited to showcase what they had learned while preparing for the competition. “Participating in this experience really improved my confidence and communication skills.” Reported a sophomore from Manchester West High School. “And I really liked meeting new people!”

Business major Ranji Matthews ’24, volunteered as judge and was very impressed with the caliber of the discussions. “This is one of my favorite events that the Center puts on,” she said. “It’s inspiring to see a younger generation of students talk and debate about real-world ethical dilemmas.”

This event is made possible with the support of Ken Goodchild ‘69, who is a member of the Center’s advisory board. “I’m so pleased that this program is gaining traction and students taking part are learning life lessons through their participation,” said Goodchild.