[eDebate] What about this "worlds" debate format?

Alfred Snider alfred.snider
Mon Sep 22 15:14:43 CDT 2008

People are asking me about it more and more, so I thought I would share 
some information.

It is growing in the USA. There seem to be functioning circuits on both 
coasts now, and we are anxious to encourage those of you in the middle 
of the country to join in. In New England we have added this format to 
our already existing policy tournaments. It has not hurt the policy 
tournaments, but expanded the number of schools involved in debate and 
allowed for some interesting cross-over experiences. This year we will 
have six such tournaments here, offering policy debate and worlds.

A number of my colleagues here were very concerned that adding worlds 
would doom policy debate, and it certainly has not done so, as several 
of those critics have now shared with me.

These tournaments mean that we can add a format without adding a whole 
new slate of tournaments. We also now have a place for our younger 
debaters to prepare for more challenging experiences.

And, they exist. The WUDC world championship tournament was a fantastic 
experience last year, a true international forum for debating in 
English. The competition was excellent and the judging was skilled and 
fair. I wish it ran a little more on time, but with 400 teams and 9 
prelims stuff happens. This year the tournament is in Cork, Ireland and 
a lot of USA teams are attending. We also went to the World Universities 
Peace Invitational Debates (WUPID) in Mayalsia, with all expenses 
covered except travel for a week in an excellent hotel. Very tough 
competition with excellent judging.

One thing that has really helped us is the International Debate Academy 
held over the Thanksgiving break in Europe. There are five intensive 
days of instruction by an all star cast followed by a tournament. It has 
really helped jump-start our students and our program. The plane is 
costly but the entire thing after that is 200 Euros including housing, 
food and instruction. Cornell, Florida State, St Johns and Vermont have 
been going, and I urge more USA teams to consider this option as a 
substitute for turkey day. The website is at http://debate.uvm.edu/idas.html

There are lots of free and easily available instructional materials. 
DEBATE CENTRAL has a major multi-format instruction page at 
<http://debate.uvm.edu/learndebate.html>and the worls format is on the 
left side. Colm Flynn's manual, available there, is very good. There are 
a host of videos at http://debate.uvm.edu/wudcvideo.html 
<http://debate.uvm.edu/wudcvideo.html>, and I am constantly putting new 
debate videos for all formats (including worlds) at DEBATE VIDEO BLOG 
http://debatevideoblog.blogspot.com/ .

in April 2009 we will be hosting the US Universities Debating 
Championship here at the University of Vermont. Come and see what it is 
like. The invite is at  
http://debate.uvm.edu/debateblog/usu/Welcome.html .  A tournament 
calendar is at  http://debate.uvm.edu/debateblog/usu/Calendar.html and a 
list of tournament invitations can be found at 

Many NPDA schools as well as APDA schools are trying it, along with our 
policy brothers and sisters. Canada is getting into it as well.

I want to add something else. It used to be that people on our campus 
would find out about the team and if they didn't like policy debate they 
were gone. Now, people have a choice, and different formats appeal to 
different people. For example, we go to our season opener at Rochester 
next weekend with our normal number of policy teams and lots of worlds 
teams. By the way, you only need one judge for every four teams, 
although many tournaments are 1-3.

It might cost some money. We have found that our alumni and other 
funders are open to the idea of debating on a world stage and have 
helped us pay the bills. Alumni realize that in "their day" going to 
Chicago or North Carolina was exciting, but that now it means going 
abroad as well. Students are attracted to something that might result in 
an overseas trip for them someday and that helps recruiting. I am proud 
to tell my administration that we now debate not just Ivy League schools 
and major state universities in the USA, but also outstanding schools 
from all around the world, we compete on a global stage. That costs 
money and we cannot promise overnight success. But, we have done it on 
not that much additional money.

But what does a debate look like?

The final round from our summer workshop in this format is at 
with fairly inexperienced students debating.

The final round from the HW Smith round robin last year is at
with Harvard, Toronto, Claremont and Cambridge.

The WUDC 2008 finals from Thailand has a bit of an echo at
with Monash, Oxford, Cambridge and Sydney.

We are having a great time and training a lot of young people in very 
meaningful skills. Format purists from all sides may not like it, but it 
is working for us.

I understand that program directors will do what is best for them, their 
programs and their students. I just want you to know that there are 
options that are working for others, and it does not mean you have to 
stop doing the format you currently do.

Best wishes,


Alfred C. Snider aka Tuna
Edwin Lawrence Professor of Forensics
University of Vermont
Huber House, 475 Main Street, UVM, Burlington, VT 05405 USA
Global Debate Blog http://globaldebateblog.blogspot.com
Debate Central http://debate.uvm.edu
World Debate Institute http://debate.uvm.edu/wdi/
World Debate Institute Blog http://worlddebateinstitute.blogspot.com
802-656-0097 office telephone
802-656-4275 office fax

More information about the Mailman mailing list