Barton Soars At Ethics Bowl Bringing Home First Place Honors

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From left — Mr. Shawn McCauley, Ms. Allison Dumas Dellinger, Ms. Hannah Finkelstein, Dr. Hope Williams, Mr. Marcus Strath, Dr. Rena Corbett, and Mr. Joshua Seth Russ.

Photo caption — from left: Mr. Shawn McCauley, Ms. Allison Dumas Dellinger, Ms. Hannah Finkelstein, Dr. Hope Williams, Mr. Marcus Strath, Dr. Rena Corbett, and Mr. Joshua Seth Russ.

WILSON, N.C. — February 10, 2016 — To say the Barton College Ethics Team was well prepared is an understatement. The team’s months-long preparation led to an exciting victory in the final round against Methodist College in the fifth annual NCICU Ethics Bowl held February 5-6. The theme for this year’s two-day competition, held on the campus of Meredith College in Raleigh, was Ethics in Technology.

This was only the second appearance of the Barton Ethics Team. Last year, in its inaugural competition at the NCICU Ethics Bowl, Barton quickly moved up the ranks to the championship finals, coming in second to Wake Forest University.

“The Ethics Bowl participants get stronger every year,” said Dr. Hope Williams, president of NCICU. “This is such a valuable experience for these students – not only does it increase awareness and discourse among students and business and community leaders, but the months of preparation strengthen all the students’ academic endeavors.”

Teams from 22 independent colleges and universities from around the state participated in the annual event, which seeks to emphasize applied ethics as a hallmark of the student experience. Ethics Bowl teams consisted of three-to-six students with campus coordinators who worked with the students to help them prepare for the competition.

The first three rounds of the competition were held on Friday, Feb. 5. For each round of the competition, teams were asked to respond to ethical questions based on a case study, which was sent to them in advance. In one of the rounds, teams were given a surprise case. The teams were evaluated on the quality of their argument, research, presentation style and moral theory. After completion of the fourth round on Saturday morning, the semifinalists (the top four teams) were paired and participated in two simultaneous matches for the fifth round. The topic for the sixth and final round was “Artificial Intelligence, Military Intelligence, and Robotic Warfare.” The question posed to the teams was: “Is remote-controlled warfare more ethical than conventional warfare?”

This year, the Barton Team won each of the first four “Team Presentation” rounds, qualifying the team for one of two semi-final rounds. That semi-final win secured Barton’s place in the final round of competition.

“Our Barton College Ethics Team of four students was phenomenal,” noted Dr. Rena Corbett, assistant professor of accounting and coordinator of the Barton College Ethics Team. “Not only were they well prepared, but they gelled, thinking quickly on their feet, and working cohesively to create superb answers to the other teams’ questions as well as summaries at the end of each round. Almost all the judges remarked on how skillfully their presentations flowed from one team member to the next.  I am so proud of our students and feel so fortunate to have shared such a surreal experience with them and with my faculty colleagues Shawn McCauley, who was so integral in developing our Ethics Team, and George Loveland for his helpful LibGuide.”

The team of more than 50 judges and moderators, comprised of business and community leaders, praised the student teams for their thoughtful arguments and broad knowledge of the topics, which they demonstrated by using relevant historical facts to state their case.

Barton College’s team, which represented a range of academic disciplines, included Allison Dumas Dellinger, a senior Theatre Performance and Management major from Durham, Hannah Finkelstein, a senior Middle School Education major from Washington, N.J., Joshua Seth Russ, a sophomore Mathematics and Business Administration major from Beulaville, and Marcus Strath, a junior Business Administration major from Norrkoping, Sweden.

“Barton could not have asked for a better group to represent us at this event,” said McCauley, assistant professor of English in the School of Humanities at Barton College and coach for the Ethics Team. “Allison, Hannah, Marcus, and Seth embody all of the qualities that we strive to nurture in every single one of our students, including leadership, resilience, poise, eloquence, and creativity.  It was very impressive to see them distill their long weeks of preparation and research into six electric rounds of a highly challenging competition. Perhaps even more remarkable, though, was how much fun they had in the process. Everyone around us could tell that our students took genuine joy both in one another’s company and in the opportunity to flex their intellectual muscles. I am honored to have been a part of this experience.”

Describing her second-year experience participating in the competition, Dellinger shared, “The team of people that went with me to this competition was an incredibly intelligent, driven, well spoken, and fun group of individuals. Each of us brought something different and valuable to the table and helped raise the bar for each other. I am happy to say that we went undefeated, but I’m even happier to add that after every single round, we said to each other that we were pleased with our presentation. Regardless of the points or the judges’ feedback, we knew we had presented a solid argument and represented ourselves, as well as Barton, in a manner that made us proud. I am so thankful for everything each of my team members has taught me, and I am grateful to call them friends as well. Rarely are students so thoroughly challenged and academically pushed, and this experience brought us all to our mental limits while bringing us together to create something worth more than the sum of its parts.”

Strath was quick to add that it was a humbling experience. “We faced many skillful and challenging teams,” he noted. “It was a great feeling to make it all the way. Having both Hannah and Allison with experience from last year gave us a real edge. All the preparation really paid off.”

As she reflected on the final day of competition, Finkelstein shared, “In the moment that the final round ended and our moderator announced that ‘Team 1, Barton College’ had won the final round, my heart was beating unreasonably fast for someone who had been sitting at a table all morning. The pride I had in my team was incredible. Not only had we bonded as a team and supported one another, we managed to win the entire competition in the right way. For me, the trophy isn’t the prime victory. I have learned so much in the process that is more valuable. I learned how to form friendships through a common goal, I learned to network and connect with professionals, and I realized what I am able to accomplish when I think critically and am fully engaged. A trophy is nice, but I am so honored to have had the privilege of this experience.”

Russ summed up the Barton Team’s win as a “great experience.” He added, “Going in, I didn’t know what to expect. It was intense, challenging, and fun, all at the same time. It is a moment that I will never forget.”

The Ethics Bowl is made possible by more than 30 corporate and individual sponsors. Duke Energy and Wells Fargo served as presenting sponsors this year.

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