[eDebate] What about this "worlds" debate format?
Mon Sep 22 15:14:43 CDT 2008
People are asking me about it more and more, so I thought I would share
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
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.
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
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