[eDebate] Challenge to the Community

Ross K. Smith smithr
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
Debate Coach
Wake Forest University

336-758-5268 (o)
336-251-2076 (cell)


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