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Members of the regional title-winning Ethics Bowl team
are, from left, Robert Gervasini ’15, Michael Wasenius ’14,
Laura Wells ’14, Michael McCormick ’15, and Mark Dushel ’14.​

PC wins regional Ethics Bowl title in first attempt

In its first appearance in the competition, Providence College earned itself a spot in the national championship of the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl (IEB).

PC’s team of five students competed against more than 15 schools in winning the 2013 Northeast Regional Ethics Bowl Championship. PC won six straight rounds in the competition at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. The team will now compete against 31 other schools in the national championship on February 27 in Jacksonville, Fla.

The IEB is an annual academic competition sponsored by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics. Teams of students from colleges across the nation address contemporary issues in a debate-style competition.

Coached by Dr. Raymond Hain and Dr. Patrick J. Macfarlane, assistant professors of philosophy, the team is composed of Mark Dushel ’14 (Severna Park, Md.), Robert Gervasini ’15 (Westerly, R.I.), Michael McCormick ’15 (Brewster, Mass.), Michael Wasenius ’14 (Ridgefield, Conn.), and Laura Wells ’14 (Poughquag, N.Y.).

To prepare, the team met each week for 90 minutes to analyze cases that were released in advance to all teams. The students discussed relevant ethical principles, developed arguments, and defended different positions. The cases covered contemporary, ethically controversial issues in society, including topics such as plagiarism, campaigns on obesity, and abortion.

“We did not expect that we would win, but we are delighted,” Hain said. “Our team was very good at working together. On most of the other teams only one or two members would take the lead for each case, but our team spread the responsibility around and every member contributed, allowing us to really draw on everyone’s different strengths.”

Wells, a mathematics and humanities double major, attributed the team’s success largely to what members have learned at PC.

“Having a PC education helped us,” she said. “That background gave us a broad perspective and foundation. It helped us learn how to communicate and showed us how to delve deeper into these issues rather than just to analyze statistics.”

To McCormick, a philosophy major, the IEB is a visible example of philosophy’s presence in modern culture.

“When people think of a philosophy major, they sometimes think it is an old and antiquated subject,” he said. “But to have a competition like this shows something active, a chance to discuss new, cutting-edge issues in society. To see that definitely makes philosophy more relevant.”

Now dealing with newly released cases, PC will continue to practice and prepare every week leading up to the national championship.

“We are very excited to be going to the national championship,” said McCormick. “We went into the first competition thinking we would be lucky to win one round, but all the members of our team complement each other. We have a lot of preparation ahead, but we have put a lot of work into this, so I think we will do well at nationals.” 

— Nick Tavares ’16

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