The Meineke football matchup in North Carolina isnt the only bowl competition on the West Virginia University calendar these days.

A team of top students in the Department of Philosophy is heading to the national Ethics Bowl tournament this March in Cincinnati after taking second place last month in regional competition at the University of North Carolina.

The teams only loss in the Atlantic Regional Ethics tournament ironically was to UNC , which knocks heads in a different way with WVU when the schools meet up again Dec. 27 at the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte.

Ryan said the philosophy bowl just might be as demanding as the football one.

Its �€~arguingwith a purpose,she said.Its definitely a cerebral contact sport.

The bowls are debate-styled affairs where students take on a docket of issues, from medical outsourcing to women raising their children in prison to the quandary of gathering DNA evidence without consent.

The competition is sponsored nationally by the Illinois Institute of Technology Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions.

WVU s team is coached by Ernani Magalhaes, assistant professor of philosophy.

Team members are:

  • Allison Broski, a sophomore political science major and philosophy minor from Wheeling;
  • Elizabeth Godwin, a junior philosophy major and political science minor also from Wheeling;
  • Shalini Moningi, a junior with dual majors in philosophy and chemistry from Charleston;
  • Raquel Spencer, a senior with dual majors in philosophy and psychology from Follansbee; and
  • Thomas Schreiber, a senior with dual majors in philosophy and secondary education from Huntington.

Raquel Spencer, who has competed in Ethics Bowl competitions for the past three years, said WVU is poised for a national title.

I think we have a real shot,she said.Weve practiced long and hard, and it feels great to see that work paying off.

Being a philosophy student pays off in general, Ryan said.

To date, there are more than 100 philosophy majors at WVU , she said, and graduates traditionally use their degree as a springboard to law school at WVU and other institutions.

When you study philosophy, you learn critical thinking,Ryan said.Thats your foundation for learning, no matter what you pursue.

Four years ago, Ryan successfully pursued international interest in her department when she launched THE QUESTION , a critical thinking exercise that poses queries fromIs war necessary?toAre NASCAR drivers athletes?to the general public. THE QUESTION on the Net: .

The Department of Philosophy is part of WVU s Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.