[eDebate] Challenge to the Community
Ross K. Smith
Wed Apr 4 20:22:47 CDT 2007
Policy: a course of action undertaken by an agent. We are all policy
makers every time we decide to undertake a course of action. Most
policies are non-governmental. We have an obligation to ourselves and
others to be good policy makers and advocates of good policies when
dealing with others in our spheres of influence.
Policy Deliberation and Debate: a METHOD for making and advocating
better policy decisions.
Intercollegiate debate about PUBLIC policy: a useful way of teaching the
SKILLS needed for successful use of a METHOD of making and advocating
good decisions. Public policy topics are especially useful because the
research base is public. While we could debate about private actions by
private agents, we have no way of poviding equal access to the kinds of
information that would help make those debates good ones. There is a
side benefit that some of what we learn about the public policy topics
sometimes informs our later lives as citizens engaged in public
deliberation regarding those same policies, but that is not the primary
reason that public policy topics are necessary.
Andy Ellis is a policy maker. He makes decisions about courses of action
for himself and for/with others. But a topic about what Andy Ellis
should do is inaccessable and, frankly, largely none of our business.
But Andy Ellis has been well served by having the training in one of the
better methods of choosing among and advocating whatever policies he is
responsible for. That method is policy debate.
Debate about public policy is a subset of debate about policy, a subset
that is "debatable" because there is a common research base. The fact
that the subject matter is at a remove from us personnally while still
residing in the "public sphere" is a feature, not a bug.
Ross K. Smith
Wake Forest University
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