MARL hosts the Manitoba High School Ethics Bowl Regional Tournament every December. In Spring 2019, we hosted the first-ever Canadian High School Ethics Bowl National Tournament. 

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Why an Ethics Bowl?

The unique, collegial dynamic of an Ethics Bowl encourages students to teach and learn from one another as they take part in courageous conversations about ethical issues. This process emphasizes the skills of communication and collaboration: critical thinking, active listening, articulation and expression, open-mindedness, and respectful dialogue and disagreement. Students engage actively with peers as they share diverse views, challenge ideas and assumptions, and deepen understandings.

What is an Ethics Bowl?

An Ethics Bowl is both a collaborative and competitive event, where teams of students analyze and discuss ethical dilemmas. They imagine, criticize, and compare bold strategies, and may even amend their original positions when faced with convincing arguments. Students have opportunities to pose and respond to probing questions, which results in a deepening awareness of the stakes and principles that animate the discussion.

Teams from public schools are eligible to participate, and each school team comprises five students from Grades 9 to 12. In advance of the Bowl, schools receive cases that focus on current ethical issues – social, political, economic, scientific, cultural, or beyond. Students research and develop the cases, and arrive at the Bowl prepared to present their ideas and to listen to other perspectives. All teams participate in a round robin style competition. In each round, two teams discuss two cases, and winning teams proceed to the semi-final and final competitions.

Students are evaluated on the following skills:

  • Communication
  • Use of relevant information
  • Critical thinking
  • Original thinking
  • Intellectual improvisation
  • Collaboration

The first regional High School Ethics Bowl was held in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 2014. Regional Ethics Bowls will take place all over Canada during Fall 2018. Winning teams will meet at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg to compete for the national title during Spring 2019.

Organization Partners

Thanks to our Organizational partners:

  • Centre for Professional and Applied  Ethics, University of Manitoba 
  • Universite de Saint-Boniface
  • Manitoba Education and Training

Student Feedback

The Ethics Bowl has had a great impact on participating students, and on their school community: 

  • “Discussing ethics is discussing the future of the world.” — H. 
  • “It really makes you see things from a different perspective.” — K. 
  • “The cure to ignorance is discussion.” — T. 
  • “You will walk away a different person.” — N. 
  • “I’ve learned how to approach social issues through education rather than anger.” - S. 
  • “Now I’m going to look at all the different sides of a subject and what people it could affect.” - B. 
  • “I definitely want to share my lessons I’ve learned with people around the world.” - V. 
  • “It helped me be more open-minded and a more well-rounded citizen.”- K. 

Teacher Feedback 

Participating teachers have observed that student discussions are deeper and more meaningful as a result of participation in the Ethics Bowl. Many report that other teachers in their schools have also been inspired to integrate critical thinking and collaboration skills, creating a school-wide approach to discussing challenging ethical issues. 

  • “The Ethics Bowl is an excellent opportunity for students to think critically about the issues facing society in a collaborative setting. It brings together so many different skills such as teamwork, literacy, analysis, and communication that are essential for success in the 21st century.” - Kara 
  • “The Ethics Bowl has become part of our school culture… We have more and more students involved each year… Other teachers in our school use ethics as a teaching tool in their classrooms now.” -Caroline 


We've received endorsements from: 

  • Canadian Philosophical Association Instruction, Curriculum and Assessment Branch, Manitoba Education and Training 
  • Manitoba Provincial Health Ethics Network 
  • Manitoba School Boards Association  
  • Manitoba Teachers’ Society 
  • Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics, University of Manitoba 
  • Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce
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