National Bioethics Bowl Comes to Baylor University April 12-13

Students from top U.S. universities debate the toughest ethical issues on the horizon in healthcare

April 11, 2024
Doctor holding in hand Bioethics

 Credit: Ankabala / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Contact: Lori Fogleman, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-709-5959
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WACO, Texas (April 11, 2024) – Baylor University is the host site of the 2024 National Bioethics Bowl, an intercollegiate academic competition in which students from U.S. colleges and universities debate a wide variety of bioethics topics – from ethical issues arising in current events in healthcare and clinical scenarios to those that would arise in fictional scenarios with futuristic health technologies.

The National Bioethics Bowl will take place April 12-13 on the Baylor University campus. Twenty teams, including those from Baylor, Harvard, Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, University of California Berkeley and more, have prepared for the competition by studying a set of cases and crafting their own position arguments on each case, which they present in debate rounds.

“Events like the National Bioethics Bowl are unique in offering undergraduates the time and opportunity to reflect with others on the toughest ethical issues on the horizon in healthcare,” said Anne Jeffrey, Ph.D., associate professor of philosophy, affiliate professor of medical humanities and a member of the Baylor Ethics Initiative. “The students spend months working with each other and preparing arguments for positions on these issues, all the while cultivating humility, skills of moral attention and perception, and practical wisdom. They  are preparing themselves for the day when they are the decision makers in healthcare. When crisis comes or a novel possibility presents itself, they will be prepared to chart the course of action that will best promote the flourishing of their communities.”

Each year, cases for the National Bioethics Bowl are submitted by professors, graduate students and industry professionals, with 12 to 15 cases eventually selected for the competition. The cases will require Bioethics Bowl students to engage a broad range of topics in bioethics, especially topics that have not been thoroughly discussed in the literature historically.

This year, the National Bioethics Bowl will focus on 14 cases written on a number of issues, including gene editing, AI-based neurotechnology, service animals, medical aid in dying, lethal organ donation and surrogate decision-making.

“As we saw in the pandemic, so much of the decision-making in healthcare has to happen rapidly and in moments of crisis,” Jeffrey said. “The best decisions and solutions in these situations will not come by applying some easy policy or moral rule. They will be the result of wisdom cultivated over time, of moral reflection and dialogue with people from differing positions and with different values, and of skills of moral attention and perception that enable us to see what is most important for human flourishing in a novel or challenging situation.”

Hosting this national competition on bioethics aligns with the commitment of the Baylor Ethics Initiative to creating and supporting research and curricular development in bioethics. The Baylor Ethics Initiative is a community of scholars and practitioners dedicated to critical and creative research about how Christian beliefs and practices relate—presently and potentially—to the broader cultural, social, economic and political systems inhabited by local, national and global citizens.

“At Baylor, we are uniquely positioned to both teach and research ethical issues in medicine, healthcare, health policy and medical technology from a Christian perspective,” Jeffrey said. “We aim to make Baylor the premier Protestant institution in the U.S. to study and research bioethics.”

All rounds of debate will take place April 13 in the Cashion Academic Center. 

On April 12, the National Ethics Bowl will welcome keynote speak Philip Butler, Ph.D., assistant professor of theology and Black Posthuman Artificial Intelligence Systems at Iliff School of Theology, director of the Iliff AI Institute and author of Black Transhuman Liberation Theology: Spirituality and Technology. Butler’s keynote address will take place at 5 p.m. in Cashion 506. 

Participating Universities in the National Bioethics Bowl are:

  • Baylor University (two teams)
  • Georgetown University
  • Loyola University Chicago
  • MacAlester College
  • Northeastern University
  • Oklahoma State University
  • Oral Roberts University
  • Saint Joseph's University
  • San Jose State University
  • Stanford University
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • University of California Berkeley
  • University of Cincinnati
  • University of Georgia
  • University of Maryland Baltimore
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of Portland
  • Westminster University


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.