News Article Release  


USNA Ethics Team Ranked 10th in the Nation

Posted on: March 19, 2013 09:00 EDT by Jessica Clark

The Naval Academy Ethics Team emerged from the 17th Annual Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl Feb. 28 ranked 10th out of approximately 120 similar teams throughout the nation.

The regional championship team finished with a 2-1 record, losing to St. Olaf College by a single point.

It was a successful run, said Dr. Shaun Baker, assistant director of the academy’s Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership.

“The team’s performance was very strong, as usual. Their ability to think on their feet during responses to judge's questions always impresses me,” he said.

Prior to the competition, the competing teams were sent 15 case studies containing ethical issues to discuss and analyze. During the two months leading up to the competition, the mids met daily to go over each case, consulting with faculty and taking opposing sides to help develop their argument.

“The team preparation and debates leading up to competitions are as fruitful as the competition itself in allowing mids to not only share and defend their own opinions but understand differing opinions on controversial topics,” said Baker. “This is a valuable skill that will serve them well as officers.”

The cases covered a wide range of topics, including prenatal genetic testing, campaign finance, and the hunting of exotic wildlife.

Though few of the cases are strictly military-related, the experience is valuable in developing the midshipmen’s ethical reasoning skills, said Midshipman 1st Class Daniel Roberts.

“This team takes ethics to the next level and forces us to really get down to the heart of the issue and defend our position, something we have to become proficient in when we go to the fleet,” he said. “Though we don’t see many military cases issues, other military topics often come up in discussion.”   

The competition was valuable in other ways as well, said Roberts.

“We met hundreds of other ethical thinkers,” he said. “The friendships you make and the interactions help prepare the midshipmen on the team for the colorful variety of people we will meet during our careers.”

It also gives the midshipmen an opportunity to work on public speaking skills and developing a coherent argument under pressure, said Midshipman 3rd Class Samuel Lacinski.

“It develops our abilities as critical thinkers who are committed to doing the right thing, not merely seeing desired results,” he said. “Since ethical decision making is arguably the most important part of being an officer, ethics debate offers us a fantastic opportunity to develop this ability.”

The team members continue to hone their ethical debate skills in preparation for the Berg Ethics Case Competition at the University of Pittsburgh later this month.

Back to top