An ethics team from Oklahoma Christian University recently defeated teams from the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and University of Central Oklahoma to capture its fifth state title.
Oklahoma Christian’s “Aguilas” – the nickname of the team – will compete Saturday Nov. 12 in San Antonio, TX, in hopes of winning its third straight regional championship at the Texas Regional Ethics Bowl.
Junior Megan McKinley, who is an veteran on the ethics team, said competing has taught her to reason critically and speak eloquently.
“I’ve actually changed my opinion on several different issues since doing ethics,” McKinley said. “It teaches you to question your assumptions, push the argument further and be honest about why you believe what you believe.”
McKinley said she joined the ethics team as a way to continue the critical thinking and argumentation she enjoyed while doing debate in high school.
“I hope that my experience will continuously remind me to question and analyze all of my opinions,” McKinley said.
Junior Sean Vandyke is another veteran to the ethics team. He said he joined as a way to get involved in college as well as further his career in debate.
“It’s made me think more critically about situations,” Vandyke said. “What we do is study ethical philosophers like Emanuel Kant or John Stewart Mill and then we apply those to everyday situations and try to come up with the most moral conclusion.”
Vandyke said because of the ethics team, he incorporates morality into everyday decisions.
“As a computer science major, if it wasn’t for business ethics my whole life would be doing math and engineering projects,” Vandyke said. “I like ethics because it still keeps that critical thinking humanity’s researching side of me alive.”
Dr. Jeff Simmons serves as the dean of Oklahoma Christian’s College of Business administration and has coached the ethics team for the past six years.
“I am so impressed and inspired by these students,” Simmons said. “They may be asked a question that I think I don’t know how they will answer that, but they always answer it in a way that is better then I could ever come up with.
As the ethics team coach, Simmons said he spends time helping them think through each case and formulate arguments grounded in moral philosophy.
“It is mentally challenging to work through these complex situations and trying to figure out what is the right thing to do in situations,” Simmons said. “Sometimes it seems there is no right answer and any way you take one position in this there is always something you could counter with.”
Simmons has sponsored the ethics team since its start six years ago. He said he did not have any experience with competing in ethics, just that he taught a business ethics class.
“Competing on the ethics team doesn’t necessary require debate experience,” Simmons said. “The biggest difference between debate and ethics is we are given these cases all of which have some kind of ethical issue looming large over it and we basically have to decide what would be the ethical decision to the situation and the case.”
Simmons said one of the advantages to competing he has seen is each teammate has developed their problem solving, critical analytical and communication skills.
“The ethics team forces them to be able to critically analyze another persons argument and make them problem solve right there on the spot,” Simmons said.