Ethics Bowl Welcome to the DC Area High School Ethics Bowl

The Ethics Bowl is a fun and rewarding way to get high school students thinking about the challenging ethical and political issues of our time. As a team member, you will investigate and debate such issues as medical ethics, censorship, violence in schools, and the financial practices of world governments, all in a chiefly collaborative manner. The goal is not to prove your friends and opposing teams wrong, but to debate in a careful, thoughtful manner about the positions which make the most sense.

While similar in structure to a debate, students on a team are not assigned positions or captains. This means no one tells you what to think or when to speak—it's the job of the entire team to come together to make the best case for their position to the judges and the opposing team. In turn, the other team will comment on your position, perhaps helping to clarify or perfect it. Even the judges have a chance to chime in, and your team will field their questions too.

As cooperative as the Ethics Bowl is, teams are still scored based on the strengths of their presentations. In the end, one team will be declared the winner, and will be eligible to travel to North Carolina in the Spring to participate in the National Ethics Bowl competition!


How it Works

The Ethics Bowl promotes respectful, supportive, and rigorous discussion of ethics among thousands of high school students nationwide. Each Fall, the National Ethics Bowl committee releases a set of cases covering a broad range of ethical issues, which then serve as the focus for the year. Teams meet together regularly, with a coach from your school and an assistant coach from American University, to research the cases, to discuss the issues they raise, and to identify clearly how they think those issues should be addressed.

Wrapped around this work is a model for the competitions that rewards students for the depth of their thought, their ability to think carefully and analytically about complex issues, and the respect they show to the diverse perspectives of their peers. As a result, the Bowl cultivates the virtues central to democratic citizenship, and prepares students to navigate challenging moral issues in a systematic and open-minded way.

For more information, please visit the National High School Ethics Bowl website, like us on Facebook, and follow our hashtag, #NHSEB, on other social media sites. You can also watch our 2019 keynote speaker, Alice Dreger!

2020 Ethics Bowl

Step 1.  By December 1, 2019, Complete the National High School Ethics Bowl registration form and pay $125 registration fee to NHSEB. [OR contact Alex Richardson, NHSEB Director, at to inquire about a fee waiver. NHSEB offers financial aid to schools for which the registration fee poses an economic hardship.] Registration should be completed by a coach or advisor, not a student member of the team.

Step 2.  Once you have registered with NHSEB (or sooner), email to notify us of your intent to compete in the DC Regional Bowl. NOTE:  there is NO FEE to participate in the DC Regional Bowl!


American University, Katzen Arts Center- Kreeger Lobby
4400 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016


  • February 1, 2020
  • Student volunteers arrive 7:00am
  • Judges arrive 7:30am
  • Teams arrive/check-in 8:00am-8:45a.m.

Registration will be in the lobby of the Katzen Arts Center.

Parking will be available in the garage of the Katzen Arts Center at 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW Washington, DC 20016.

The best way to drop off students is to enter the garage and drop them off by the elevator near the entrance (there is no gate on the garage). The elevator will take them up to the lobby. 

A light breakfast will be provided for judges and volunteers at 7:30am

Lunch will be provided for teams at 1:30pm

Quotes on Ethics Bowl

“I was impressed both by thoughtfulness of the kids and the spirit of the event. Really liked the emphasis on insightful and polite discussion. I enjoyed everything about the ethics bowl as well evidenced perhaps by the number of people I’ve talked to about the event.”

“The range of questions was thoughtful and challenging. The students who participated were all fantastic and watching them wrestle with these difficult problems was fascinating—and hopeful.”

“I had a great time as a judge! It was a great opportunity to be involved and think deeply about those topics. Most of the teams were extremely impressive and fun to watch.”

“Giving students the opportunity to practice civil discourse in a public setting is beyond valuable. Thank you.”

“The whole event was inspiring. Being able to see students exploring complex topics, collaborating in exchanges, and expressing their thoughts with well-composed, philosophically-based critical and creative thinking does so much to reveal why philosophy in pre-college is so impactful.”
Gary Colletti, Education Policy Associate, National Association of State Boards of Education

“The Ethics Bowl is fabulous!”
Guest Speaker Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland

“…thank you for investing your heart, soul and wisdom in fostering ethics, reason and logic…”
Tonya Butler-Truesdale, DC Housing Provider Ombudsman