SJSU Ethics Bowl team photo

SJSU Ethics Bowl Team Heads to Nationals March 3

SJSU Ethics Bowl team photo

SJSU Ethics Bowl Team

What do get when you combine six hardworking students with two dedicated professors, a reference librarian and a retired lawyer?  

The state’s top Ethics Bowl team, no need to debate it. The group is preparing now for nationals, to be held March 3 in Cincinnati.

“This has been life changing,” said philosophy major Duy Nguyen. “Being a part of this team gives me a sense of purpose that I could not get from lectures alone.” 

For perhaps the first time in history, SJSU received the top score at regionals, beating teams from powerhouse campuses including the University of Southern California and the University of California, Santa Cruz. SJSU’s victory was especially sweet given there was no team at all last year due to budget cuts. 

Modeled on television’s College Bowl, the Ethics Bowl requires students to analyze difficult ethical problems drawn from practical and professional contexts. The program is sponsored by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics. The national competition hosts approximately 40 student teams from colleges across the country. 

Students present and defend their solutions to ethical problems in a format that closely resembles a debate.  They are judged on their understanding of the issues, the cogency of their solutions, and the strength of their oral presentations on topics such as bullfighting, whale conservation, and the citizenship status of undocumented residents’ offspring. 

“Students develop research skills, skills in philosophical, political, financial and legal analysis, and communication skills,” said philosophy department Chair Rita Manning.  “More importantly, participation in the Ethics Bowl hones their leadership skills as they confront and develop constructive solutions to ethical issues in practical and professional life.” 

This year’s team includes philosophy majors Aaron Adams, Hiram Alvarez, Nguyen, and Fiza Najeeb, and political science majors Cassandra Agbayani and James Gold. The students spent the year preparing for competition with assistance from Manning, Philosophy Lecturer Janet Giddings, Senior Assistant Librarian Marci Hunsaker, and volunteer Tim Blackwood, a retired deputy district attorney. 

The team is very close to raising the $5,000 it needs to cover travel expenses, but could still use your support. Interested in making a contribution? Contact Professor Rita Manning at or (408) 924-4470.