The UCF Ethics Bowl team will return to the national Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl in March for a second consecutive year after recently qualifying at the regional competition.

The team finished second out of 18 teams at the University of North Georgia regionals, where the members argued positions on moral questions such as voting rights for felons, ethical obligations of rich countries to poor countries, expectations of privacy after posting DNA results online, and other issues.

“I am extremely proud of our team and was particularly impressed in how they continued to get better with each round,” says Professor Michael Strawser, chair of the Department of Philosophy and one of the team coaches. “When responding to the judges’ Q&A they exhibited great confidence and knowledge.”

A moderator at the competition poses questions to the teams, which are scored by judges based on the team’s intelligibility, ethically relevant considerations, and deliberative thoughtfulness.

“The ethics bowl cases and questions are extremely challenging, and ones that seasoned scholars, politicians and professionals struggle to answer,” Strawser says. “And yet our students succeed in formulating well-developed answers to the questions in an intense competition lasting over 12 hours.”

The Knights defeated the University of North Carolina in the semi-final round of the Mid-Atlantic Regional but lost to Samford University by 1 point in the championship round. Clemson University, which came in third, also will advance to the 23rd national competition March 2-3 in Baltimore.

The team consists of Natalie Hintz, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering; Derwin Sanchez, a freshman majoring in philosophy and writing and rhetoric; Matthew Shalna, a junior majoring in philosophy and political science; and Madison Stemples, a junior majoring in philosophy. In addition to Strawser, the team is also coached by Madi Dogariu, director of student services in the Burnett Honors College.

“We have high-quality undergraduate students with excellent research and argumentation abilities.”

The team’s success is based on “preparation and outstanding, highly motivated students who learn and grow in the process and work well together,” Strawser says. “We have high-quality undergraduate students with excellent research and argumentation abilities.”

The UCF Ethics Bowl team won the national competition in 2011 and the Mid-Atlantic Regional last year. The team has advanced to the national competition four times in the past nine years, finishing fifth out of 36 teams last year.

The Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl began as a small intramural program at the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1993. Since then, it has expanded into a national competition.