e-Newsletter of Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary | February 1, 2013 Twitter Facebook

Ethics debate team heads for national competition

Members of the ethics debate team from left: Sarah Baiardi '16, Kelsy Adams '14, Dr. Bernie Cantens, Michelle Mason '16, and Colton Krial '15.

Photo by Alex Sestok '16

Moravian’s ethics debate team has earned a berth in the 17th Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl, where it will compete with 31 other college teams from around the country on February 28 in San Antonio, Texas. This is the highest placement the debate team has earned since it started competing in the Ethics Bowl in 2008.

The team that competed in the regional competition in the fall consisted of Kelsy-Ann Adams ’14, Sarah Baiardi ’16, Michelle Mason ’16, Colton Krial ’15, and Ashley Newhart ’15. Krial and Newhart have since left the team, but Adams, Baiardi and Mason will all compete in San Antonio. The team’s advisor is Bernie Cantens, associate professor of philosophy.

The Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE) runs the Ethics Bowl, during which teams argue and defend their points against the other teams’ arguments and defenses. The cases around which the teams craft their arguments are assigned to individual members of each team. These cases draw from real-world stories that typically feature ethical gray areas and multiple layers of ethical dilemma rather than clear and simple right or wrong judgments. The cases force competitors to do research before the competition to understand the facts, think critically about its ethical implications and decide what the most ethical decision would be in each instance. They must logically and effectively argue their positions and react quickly to challenges posed by other competitors. Cantens describes the Ethics Bowl as a hands-on learning opportunity and says, “It’s a great experience, especially for students going to law school.”

Adams is the leader of a young team that is at the beginning of its successes. She competed in debate in high school and joined the Moravian team during her sophomore year. “I dabbled in other clubs, but nothing gets my blood boiling like debate,” she says. During her first year, the team advanced to the regional quarterfinals. Only one of her cases was called during the competition, which she cites as an important experience that allowed her to observe the basic ritual of the Ethics Bowl competition before facing the pressure of having to argue and defend multiple cases in the high-pressure environment of the competition.  
The team found success during the regional competition by keeping cool under the bright lights of the debate stage. They didn’t expect to go far because two of their members left the team right before the competition. Baiardi and Mason, the two freshman members, joined the team just a week before the competition.

“We didn’t even think we would make it past lunchtime, but we just kept winning. We were in disbelief,” Adams remembers. She couldn’t sleep the night before, and credits her energy during the event to “Red Bull, candy and adrenaline.”

The team is looking for one or two new members to replace those who have left since the regional competition. Any students interested in joining the team may contact Adams at for an audition.