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2024 Ethics Bowl

  • 9 Mar 2024
  • 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • SCA Annual Meeting in Riverside



The Annual  SCA Ethics Bowl is Coming to Riverside and We Need Your Help!

The SCA will hold the annual Ethics Bowl competition at the upcoming annual meeting in Riverside. Organized similarly to the SAA Ethics Bowl, which has been held at their annual meetings for several years now, teams of 3-5 students from various universities or colleagues from various agencies, CRM companies, or other groups or organization will compete against each other in a series of rounds. The winning team moves on to the next round until there is a final winning team. The winning team takes home a travelling trophy to display in the office/department for the next year and their team or school name is engraved onto the trophy. Additional prizes will be awarded to winning team members.

The competition is based on a series of “cases.” The cases will focus on California archaeological scenarios and the regulations, laws and policies that apply. Many will be particular to the State of California, California institutions and organizations, but also may include national regulations, and potentially, international regulations. Each case is a realistic but fictionalized scenario, often based on actual events, that raises ethical issues about archaeological practice and research. These are sometimes based on field research where issues of ethical concern have occurred. Issues surrounding Museum collections are another good source for cases, but cases may be based on any aspect of archaeological practice in California. There is usually a primary ethical issue that is the focus of the case, but a case may have several issues. All the cases are published beforehand and all participating teams are expected to read them, research them, discuss them, and even conduct mock competitions as a means of preparing. A good deal of preparation by the teams is advisable, resulting in a significant learning opportunity for the team members in terms of ethics and judgement. We see this as a great way to help prepare future California archaeological professionals to make sound ethical decisions in archaeological practice. 

During a competitive round, the first team is told what case they are being given and are asked a question about the case that highlights the ethical issue(s) and what should have been done or should be done. The first team has time to confer and then presents their answer. After that, the second team comments on the performance of the first team, noting if they agree with their answer and whether there were mistakes or omissions by the first team.  Then the process repeats with a different case presented to the second team. A panel of judges ranks team performance using a series of criteria. Once the round has completed, the judges add up the numeric scoring criteria and declare a winner. The ultimate winner will be announced at the business meeting (and/or the Banquet) and the travelling trophy and other prizes presented. Many of the participating teams would be from colleges and universities located within the State of California, but any school conducting California archaeological research would be eligible to field a team. Judges will be solicited from experienced SCA members.

In addition to being great competitive fun, the Ethics Bowl will provide a dynamic opportunity for students to learn about laws, regulations, policies and how to make good ethical decisions in archaeological practice, often in complicated circumstances, with sometimes imprecise, somewhat vague and competing rules, regulations, and policies. Teams may be developed out of classes, such as ethics or regional archaeology courses, but teams could also be created in a number of different ways, including department student clubs or other organizations. 

  1. Please help us develop cases ASAP! If you know of any good scenarios, based on actual events or not, please send them to us. Ideas or fully developed cases will be appreciated. All cases will be fictionalized. If you want to get an idea of what cases entail, you might want to take a look at past cases from the SAA at Send ideas and potential cases to the SCA Office. We need cases to be submitted by January 12, 2024.
  2. If you are interested in forming and entering a team in the competition, the sooner we know, the better. 
  3. If you are willing to help organize the SCA Ethics Bowl, including helping to prepare cases, recruiting judges, and staffing the event itself, please let us know NOW.
  4. We are considering the participation of teams other than from colleges and universities, such as from CRM firms, regulatory agencies, or other groups and organizations. If your organization is interested in entering a non-school team, please let us know.

Society for California Archaeology
Business Office
P.O. Box 2582 |  Granite Bay  |  CA 95746

Contact Us:
(530) 342-3537

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