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Five students and 1 teacher sitting around a trophy all showing the number 1 winning finger.

The 2023 winning team from Miles MacDonnell Collegiate. Photo credit: MARL MB.

High School Ethics Bowl brings together Manitoba’s future thinkers

March 1, 2023 — 

On February 24, 2023, 18 high schools from across Manitoba gathered in the Tier Building at the University of Manitoba to compete in the 9th annual Manitoba Regional High School Ethics Bowl competition, hosted by the UM Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics in cooperation with the Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties (MARL) and the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.

The Ethics Bowl encourages students to teach and learn from one another as they take part in courageous conversations about ethical issues. Students are given case studies that present various ethical dilemmas and must craft a response by looking at all sides of the question. Though it is similar in some ways to a debate competition, it is meant to provide a positive alternative to debates. It prioritizes careful argument, understanding and collaboration over confrontation. The Bowl encourages deeper critical thinking by examining Canadian and international issues, with the aim of finding the best solution possible. This process emphasizes skills such as critical thinking, active listening, articulation and expression, open-mindedness, respectful dialogue and disagreement. Students engage actively with peers as they share diverse views, challenge ideas and assumptions and deepen understanding. 

The incredible students that participated in this year’s event collectively put together thousands of hours of research and dedication to preparing for the competition, culminating in three matches in front of a panel of esteemed judges.

The excitement was palpable as students excitedly mingled amongst themselves, getting to know new friends and faces while discussing the findings of their research throughout the afternoon. Mr. Sokalski, a former teacher, and Ethics Bowl coach at Kelvin High School mentioned feeling elated to see two students pushing to connect and continue their conversations about Emmanuel Kant and his works after a match. Such a feat wasn’t possible last year due to a Zoom only competition because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Across the board, students agreed that there was so much more life to having the competition in person in contrast to the previous two years. In an interview with a few students (Jai, Rory and Gabriel), Gabriel, an aspiring law student and competitor, said “The University (of Manitoba) is the best place to hold events like this because it really feels like a place of education when I’m competing and having these conversations in the lecture halls”. Additionally, both Rory and Gabriel mentioned that they were excited to have the opportunity to broaden their perspective and expand their worldview, as well as to develop their critical thinking skills in a safe and collaborative setting. Rory, who is from Fischer Branch, exclaimed that the Ethics Bowl “was a fantastic way to get insights into philosophical viewpoints of those that live within the city as well as to hear about the different lives that they experience”.

The students weren’t the only ones excited to feel the buzz in the air. Several judges and moderators, who ranged from University of Manitoba and University of Winnipeg students to professionals from education, law, health care and the social sector, expressed how heartwarming it was to see the students so engaged in an active learning process. From displaying eloquence, great sportsmanship, collaboration and more, each and every student put their best foot forward in furthering their development as a morally engaged citizens.

This year’s winning team was from Miles MacDonell Collegiate. The École secondaire Kelvin High School team finished as runners-up. Both teams will now represent Manitoba at the national competition in May 2023.

The Manitoba Ethics Bowl would like to extend its heartfelt congratulations to all of the participants, teachers, volunteers and organizations for their time, resources and effort in putting the 2023 Ethics Bowl together. Without them, students like Rory, Jai, and Gabriel wouldn’t be able to experience these types of extracurricular opportunities.


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