2017 Ethics Bowl

For the past three years, ICW has been supporting an academic enrichment program—grounded in ethics—that culminates in a two half-day competition benefiting all 10 member colleges and universities. It has become very popular among students and within our shared communities.  It is an epic battle of wits! Showcasing future workforce talent—and always civil.

The ICW Ethics Bowl brings together student teams from each college who debate ethics issues in the form of cases. The teams spend months preparing. This academic year the Ethics Bowl will be held on the Seattle University campus April 23 and 24, 2017.



What is an Ethics Bowl?

The ICW Ethics Bowl is a full year academic enrichment program culminating to a multi-round competition among student teams from our 10 member colleges and universities. Each ICW college prepares and sends a team of up to five students to debate in a collegial setting, using cases that explore real ethical issues relevant to modern times.

The teams are scored during the debates by a panel of volunteer judges made up of corporate executives, local celebrities, and community leaders. After a series of five rounds, a winning team is declared.

“I am glad there is an event to talk about current ethical issues with other smart people in a competitive atmosphere. I really enjoyed the speaker at lunch and the opportunity to network with judges after the Ethics Bowl.” – Student

Ethics Bowl – Open to the public, no rsvp required

Sunday, April 23

1 pm – 5:00 pm
Pigott Building – Attend all or part of the day

Monday, April 24

8:30 am – 12 noon
Administration Building and Pigott Building

What are my parking options?

Main Visitor Parking Lot entrance is located on 12th Ave. and E Marion St.

The Broadway Parking Lot entrance is located on Broadway and E Columbia St.

Street parking on Seattle streets is free on Sundays.

What are my transportation options?

Seattle University Campus Map
From the north
  1. Head south on I-5
  2. Take exit 165A to James Street
  3. Left onto James Street
  4. Left onto 12th Avenue
  5. Left onto East Marion Street
From the south
  1. Head north on I-5
  2. Take exit 164A to James Street
  3. Right onto James Street
  4. Left onto 12th Avenue
  5. Left onto East Marion Street
From the east (I-90)
  1. Head west on I-90 toward Seattle
  2. Take exit 2C toward I-5 North
  3. Take the James Street exit
  4. Right onto James Street
  5. Left onto 12th Avenue
  6. Left onto East Marion Street
From the east (WA-520)
  1. Head west on WA-520
  2. Merge onto I-5 South toward Portland
  3. Take exit 165A to James Street
  4. Left onto James Street
  5. Left onto 12th Avenue
  6. Left onto East Marion Street

The 2017 Ethics Bowl will be held on April 23 and 24, 2017 at Seattle University in Seattle, Washington.  Campus locations and room assignments are subject to change.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

11:30 am – 12:20 pm Team Registration PACCAR Atrium, Pigott Building
11:45 am – 12:20 pm Volunteer Registration and Orientation PACCAR Atrium, Pigott Building
12:30 – 12:45 pm Welcome PACCAR Atrium, Pigott Building
1:00 – 2:15 pm Round 1 5 Classrooms, Pigott Building
2:30 – 3:45 pm Round 2 5 Classrooms, Pigott Building
4:00 – 5:15 pm Round 3 5 Classrooms, Pigott Building
5:30 – 6:30 pm Half-Time Reception
By invitation and RSVP only
PACCAR Atrium, Pigott Building

Monday, April 24, 2017

7:30 – 8:20 am Team Registration PACCAR Atrium, Pigott Building
7:30 – 8:20 am Volunteer Registration and Orientation PACCAR Atrium, Pigott Building
8:20 – 8:30 am Welcome Pigott Auditorium, Pigott Building
8:45 – 10:00 am Round 4 – Double Blind Semi-Final 5 Classrooms, Administration Building
10:15 am Announcement – Team Standings and Two Finalists Pigott Auditorium, Pigott Building
10:30 – 11:45 am Round 5 – Final Round Pigott Auditorium, Pigott Building
12:00 – 1:30 pm Awards Lunch
By invitation and RSVP only
Campion Ballroom


Are you Judging or Moderating at the ICW Ethics Bowl?

Please watch the video below to prepare and familiarize yourself with the Ethics Bowl format. A Tip Sheet and Scoring Guidelines are in the links below the video.

Video Note:

Judges and moderators will NOT be revealing scores or winners after rounds end at the 2017 ethics bowl. Winners will be revealed at a later time. From 14:50 – 15:50 in the above video the instructor goes over the procedure for revealing scores and winners of the round, so you may disregard that portion. 

ICW Ethics Bowl Training Video from Independent Colleges of WA on Vimeo.

The two cases referenced in the video may be viewed here: BYODDomestic Drones

Click here to view and print our Philosophy 101 Primer!

Click here to view and print the Judge Tip Sheet!

Click here to view and print the Judges Scoring Criteria and Guidelines!

2017 Ethics Bowl Cases

The ten Ethics Bowl teams were given these 12 cases in February and commenced researching and preparing for the competition in April. All cases are written by active or retired volunteers and offer relevant, real world examples of complex ethical cases in action. Of 12 cases distributed, 10 will be selected for use in live competition.

Full Case Packet

Case #1: Robotic Warfare

Case #2: Civil Disobedience

Case #3: Colonizing Mars

Case #4: Modeling Online Habits and Manners

Case #5: The Role of Robots

Case#6: The Tunnel Problem

Case #7: Uses and Abuses of Social Media

Case #8: Company Loyalty

Case #9: Physicians in the Marketplace

Case #10: A Marketing Conundrum

Case #11: Tesla Autopilot 

Case #12: Tuition Discounting

ICW Goals for the Ethics Bowl

The ICW Ethics Bowl goals are to:

  • Showcase students’ abilities to apply ethics to everyday challenges as future business and community leaders.
  • Increase visibility of ICW institutions as places where critical and analytical thinking is encouraged and social responsibility and accountability is instilled.
  • Engage the statewide business community as collaborators in key phases of event organization and as financial partners/sponsors.

“The students were great! I love being reminded that the world will be in good hands as my generation let go of the reins.” –Volunteer Judge

Outcomes for Students

The future we want for our world and the next generation of leaders is an ethical one.

Ethics Bowls teach:

  • How to think systematically and critically – Students examine complex cases where there are competing values and learn how to discern the most important considerations in each case. This practice equips our future leaders to make informed, thoughtful, and difficult decisions.
  • Real world application of ethical theory – Students apply classroom theory to real situations, learn how it can guide action, and understand how practical considerations can strengthen their argument.
  • Respect – Students learn how to have conversations about difficult issues in a way that shows respect for each other as human beings. The experience helps students learn how to demonstrate civility and respectful disagreement, and find ways to work together across differences. Click here to watch a video of one of the ICW Ethics Bowl team advisors talking about how ethics bowl students use their expertise and their reasoning and deliberation skills as they learn how to engage people on controversial ethical issues.

ICW thanks the following sponsors for their support of the 2017 ICW Ethics Bowl, to be held April 23 and 24, 2017 at Seattle University:

Major Funding Provided By

Premiere Sponsors

                                       The Wollenberg Foundation                           Kenneth J and Beryl N Goodchild        

Friend Level






Congratulations to all ten teams who participated in the 2016 ICW Ethics Bowl!

After a full day of competition, spanning five rounds, the top four teams were announced at an evening reception: the team from Whitworth University was awarded first place, followed by Whitman College, Walla Walla University and Gonzaga University. To watch the final round between Whitman and Whitworth as it aired on TVW click here!

The competition was designed to hone students’ ability to think systematically and analytically, equipping them, as emerging leaders, to make difficult decisions through informed thought and critical judgment.
Major funding for the Ethics Bowl was provided by U.S. Bank, honored as the World’s Most Ethical Company® by Ethisphere® in 2015. Sponsors at the premiere level include The Boeing Company, Kenneth J and Beryl N Goodchild, TIAA, Saltchuk, and The Wollenberg Foundation, with additional support from our friends at Alaska Airlines, Lawton Printing, Peterson Sullivan LLP, Puget Sound Business Journal, and University of Puget Sound.
Judges and moderators for the all-day competition included state legislators, executives and staff from Boeing, US Bank, Saltchuk, TIAA, The News Tribune, Seattle Ethics & Elections Commission, the Washington State Supreme Court, and other notable local companies and organizations.


The ten Ethics Bowl teams were given these 12 cases in January and are researching and preparing for the competition in April. The cases were written by volunteers from businesses around the Puget Sound region, and offer relevant, real world examples of complex ethical cases in action. Of these 12 cases, 10 will be selected for use in live competition.

Case #1: Rehoming

This case examines the unregulated practice of adoptive parents finding new homes for their adopted child without working through any formal channels.

Case #2: Oocyte Cryopreservation

This case explores the ethical issue of corporations offering to pay for female employees to put off having children by covering egg-freezing (oocyte cryopreservation) through their benefits packages.

Case #3: Executive Pay

This case looks at the new US Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring publicly traded corporations in the US to make explicit disclosures about the ratio of the compensation of its chief executive officer compared to the median compensation of its employees.

Case #4: Refugee Crisis

This case examines the argument that Western powers bear some responsibility for the current refugee crisis and the opposing argument – the right to self-defense.

Case #5: Cecil

This case looks at the outcry over the killing of Cecil the lion by American dentist Walter Palmer, who paid a sum of $50,000 to a professional guide for the privilege to hunt and kill an African lion.

Case #6: “But It Was Just a Hug”

This case examines a perhaps misleading media report about a woman who filed a lawsuit against her 8-year-old nephew for $127,000 after sustaining major injuries to her wrist when the boy knocked her over while attempting to jump into her arms to hug her.

Case #7: Homes for the Homeless

This case explores the ethical implications for municipalities looking at providing permanent housing (including support services) for the homeless rather than the more traditional emergency shelter or transition housing options.

Case #8: Neurocampaigning

This case examines political campaigns using neuroscience techniques such as measuring brain activity to reduce the reliance on qualitative methods such as focus groups.

Case #9: “#RaceTogether”

This case looks at Starbucks’ “Race Together” campaign.

Case #10: A Burning Issue

This case explores California’s reliance on a voluntary inmate firefighter program and how the program is at odds with the state goal of reducing prison overcrowding.

Case #11: Ransom Demands

This case looks at the United States’ announced policy that the government will not negotiate with terrorists despite having a long history of arranging payments and prisoner releases in response to hostage situations.

Case #12: “Whooo”. . . Gives a Hoot?

This case examines the ethics of hunting and killing invasive barred owls in the natural habitat of the northern spotted owl in order to boost spotted owl populations.

Participant and Volunteer Details

Go to ICWashington.org/ethics-bowl/participants

Contact Us

For more information about the ICW Ethics Bowl, including available volunteer opportunities and event sponsorship, please contact: Kris Gonzales, Director of Development Kris@ICWashington.org, 206-623-4494