Ethicutioners Team 2011

There’s no debating the fact that the eight University of Colorado Denver Ethicutioners are winners. The team swept the Rocky Mountain Regional Ethics Bowl competion Nov. 19 held on the CU Boulder Campus.

The team argued for 10 hours, regarding cases as diverse as recruiting foreign students, to how to deal with diminishing public pensions, to mixing politics with medical practice. By their undefeated run to the top of the regional competition, the team has earned a place at the 2012 National Ethics Bowl in March, to be held in Cincinnati.

“They do this learning experience simply for fun and their own edification,” said Candice Shelby, associate professor, Philosophy.


The competition follows a debate format. In each round, each team is presented with one of the 15 cases published by the Ethics Bowl board ahead of time, chosen at random, for which they go through the following process: 10 minutes for original presentations, then five minutes for rebuttals, then five minutes for response to rebuttals, then 10 minutes for questioning by judges (after two such cases, the round is judged). Each round takes more than an hour.

To prepare, the students do research on the 15 cases as soon as they are published, then they create arguments for both sides of the case.  Ultimately, they choose the side that they think is the stronger, and build their arguments for that side. But they always have to be aware that they could be on the rebutting team on any case, and so have to build strong rebuttals to their own positions as well. The students work with faculty, other volunteer students, and their families and friends, developing their cases, recording them, critiquing them, over and over until competition time.

The team has made appearances at the National Ethics Bowl the past two years (this March will be the third). They have swept the regional competition twice in a row, winning five straight matches in each case. At the national level, last year, they succeeded until the quarter finals when they met the team that ultimately became the national champs.

“These students are totally self-driven, meeting with and without their sponsors for 30-40 hours per week to prepare for the competition, while maintaining their regular courses and,” said Shelby, “in some cases, jobs as well.”

The team includes Dan Banta, Blake Brennan, Elle Brown, Brandon Harris, Jennifer Harvey, Sean Killan, Erica Medina, and Christina Young. They’re coached by Philosophy Department faculty Gabriel Zamosc and Candice Shelby.

Students who participate can earn one-time independent study credit.

Shelby extends special thanks to the Philosophy Department faculty and Jim Stratman, Communication Department, “for their endless hours of listening to arguments and providing acute criticisms. They will be called on again, as the team tries to surpass last year’s quarterfinalist finish, and bring home the National Championship trophy.”

PHOTO: Ethicutioners (l to r) Christina Young, Erica Medina, Blake Brennan, Brandon Harris, Elle Brown, Dan Banta, and Sean Killan.

CU in the City logo