SHA2016-logo3-250x300Good morning SHA members! For this week’s #SHA2016 conference post, Jade Luiz, graduate student at Boston University, discusses the upcoming #SHA2016 Ethics Bowl. Please read below to learn more!

As registration for the #SHA2016 Annual Meeting takes off, we hope that students consider all of the different events available to them, including the Ethics Bowl! The APTC student subcommittee, aided by the Ethics Committee, is gearing up for the third annual SHA Ethics Bowl at #SHA2016 in Washington, DC! Terrestrial and underwater archaeology students are invited to participate in this challenging and fun ethics event. Students will take on case studies relevant to ethical issues that they may encounter in their careers. Because issues in archaeological ethics are rarely static, “game-changer” cards will also be introduced during play to encourage participants to think on their feet and make changes to their plans mid-stream.

Students are welcome to form their own teams of up to four members of mixed graduate and undergraduate participants. Competitors will be given this year’s cases in advance so they can prepare their position. The issues posed range from underwater to terrestrial contexts and have been provided by members of the SHA Ethics committee. These issues are based on current challenges students may face in their careers (if they have not already). In addition, we want The Ethics Bowl to mirror real life as closely as we can—one always has to expect the unexpected. For this reason, a game-changing card will be introduced during play for each team. The cards contain new information about the case and provide complications players will need to negotiate. Quick thinking will be a plus! The spontaneous nature of these curve balls will make for some additional fun!

Planning is already underway to make the #SHA2016 Ethics Bowl the biggest and best yet! While the past grand prize has been registration for the following year’s annual meeting, this year the Register for Professional Archaeologists (RPA) is providing a grand prize of $500 to be shared among the members of the winning team with a second place prize of registration to the 2017 annual meeting in Fort Worth, TX! In addition, the ethics scenarios will be provided by the SHA Ethics Committee and the RPA, with volunteer judges from both organizations.

Teams will be scored on clarity, depth, focus, and judgment, in their responses. The bowl is intended to foster both good-natured competition and camaraderie between students from many different backgrounds and universities. Registration is now OPEN for the #SHA2016 Ethics Bowl, until October 20th, 2015!

The 2015 Ethics Bowl in Seattle, WA, was a success despite its small size. Competitors included both graduate and undergraduate students from East Carolina University, Wesleyan University, and University of Idaho. As our judges, we were honored to have Paul Johnston, Darby Stapp, and Sara Gonzalez, who asked probing questions of the participating teams. The 2015 case study posed the following issue to our competitors:

“For several years you have been working for a local museum in a region known for its underwater, colonial era shipwrecks. One day, a patron schedules an appointment with you to discuss a wreck that he has discovered while diving. The patron seems genuinely interested in the history of the area, and you feel like the meeting may end in an excellent research opportunity, but the patron removes a box from his bag which, as it turns out, is packed quite full of Spanish coins and other small, valuable objects. He explains that he took only the items he could easily carry from the wreck as he had not been expecting to find anything so intact, but that there were many well-preserved boxes of cargo and ship fixtures visible and apparently recently exposed. It becomes clear that the purpose of meeting with you is that he wants you, as an archaeologist, to value the items so that he might better estimate the economic wisdom of carrying out a large-scale salvage of the site. When you explain that you do not feel comfortable assigning value to artifacts, the patron becomes offended and suggests that he might get the information elsewhere. He is unwilling to share the location of the site if you do not agree to value the artifacts.”

In addition to the above problem, our teams also had to contend with the following game-changers:

“The patron informs you that he has already secured the full support and funding of a large salvage company for removing artifacts.”


“The patron refuses to guarantee that he will let you know where the site is if you assist him.”

Despite there being no ideal option for our participants in this scenario, they did really well making the best of an awful situation through in-depth exploration of the issues. In the end, the East Carolina State team took the day and each team member won free registration to the #SHA2016 Annual Meeting in Washington, DC!

SHA 2015 Ethics Bowl

#SHA2015 Ethics Bowl


For more information for #SHA2016 Ethics Bowl, check out the online conference agenda , the SHA Meeting website, or please email

Additionally, if you are interested in volunteering with this event, either in preparation for the annual meeting or the day of competition (or both!), please email Jade Luiz at

Keep an eye out for more information regarding upcoming student events and the #SHA2016 Ethics Bowl. We look forward to seeing you in Washington, DC!

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