Saturday, May 5, 2012

Who can join the team?

ANYONE. Don't have debate experience? No problem--this is where we learn. Have some experience in another format? That's great! We'll build on the relevant strengths you already have and teach you some new tricks. Like debate but don't have time to travel? Help us put on public debates here at URI and engage in weekly practice rounds.

If you are interested in joining, please contact me at catemorrison AT mail DOT uri DOT edu

What does a debate look like?

Here are a few sample videos of BP debate:

From the recent 2012 USUDC final round (US national championship) between (OG) Yale, (OO) Hobart and William Smith, (CG) St. Johns and (CO) University College Dublin Literary and Historical Society. The motion: "This house believes that coming cuts in USA military spending make the world a better place."

From the 2012 NEUDC final round (Northeastern Universities debate championship), between (OG) Regis University, (OO) Cornell University, (CG) Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and (CO) Colgate. The motion is "This house believes that supporters of a candidate should not criticize their policies during an election." 

The big dance: Worlds final round, 2010 in Koc University, Turkey. Some say this was one of the best debates in living memory. OG Harvard, OO London School of Economics, CG Oxford, CO Sydney. Motion: This house believes that the media should show the full horrors of war.

To get a sense of local competition, here's the final round from UMass Amherst. The King's College, NY (OG), Cornell (OO), Vermont (CG), Cornell (CO) Motion: "This house would pay reparations for slavery"

Also watch Prof. Steve Llano's vimeo feed--He posts new videos of rounds, lectures, public debates and other videos from around the world that can help improve your debate skillz.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Who debates?

The World University Debate Championships, as the name suggests, is an international league. To give you a sense of its reach, here are some selected teams from the most recent (spring 2012) world ranking list (not the end-all, be-all list of teams, but a guideline for active, competitive programs).

Top ten:
Sydney Union (Australia)
Monash (Australia)
Yale (US)
Oxford Union (England)
Cornell (US)
Cambridge (England)
Vermont (US)
Colgate (US)
Trinity University Dublin Historical Society
London School of Economics

From places other than US, UK and Australia

12 McGill (Canada)
14 Ateneo de Manila University (Phillipines)
21 National University of Singapore
38 International Islamic University of Malaysia
47 Witswaterand (South Africa)
48 Leiden (Netherlands)
53 University of Belgrade (Serbia)
55 University of Ljubljana (Slovenia)
64 Hebrew University (Israel)
66 University of Namibia
165 Brown

What's debate?

Hello and welcome to what will hopefully become the home of URI debate! We are a brand new team, aimed at competing in Worlds British Parliamentary-style intercollegiate debate.

Interested, but don't know what British Parliamentary-style debate means? I'll give a brief overview, and then provide links for further information.

In BP World's debate, four teams compete against one another. Two teams support the motion, and two teams oppose. Each debater gives only one speech. The format is as follows:

Opening government 1 (prime minister)
Opening opposition 1 (leader of the opposition)
Opening government 2 (deputy prime minister)
Opening opposition 2 (deputy leader of the opposition)
Closing government 1 (member for the government)
Closing opposition 1 (member for the opposition)
Closing government 2 (government whip)
Closing opposition 2 (opposition whip)

Each speech is 7 long, and open for points of information (questions or comments to the floor) after the first minute and before the last minute (first and last minute are closed to POIs).

The motion is released 15 minutes before the start of the round--this debate format encourages quick thinking, wit, analysis and speaking off the cuff. Here are examples of motions from the elimination rounds of the 2011 WUDC:

Octo: This house would buy countries votes in international organizations
Qtr: This house believes that courts should not enforce wills that discriminate on the basis of race
Semi: This house opposes organized religion
Final: This house would invade Zimbabwe
EFL (English as a first language) Semi: This house supports a one state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
EFL Final: This house would give more votes to the poor
ESL (English as a second language) Qtr: This house believes that domestic courts should try foreign nationals who commit war crimes abroad
ESL Semi: This house would prefer that the children of racial minorities be adopted by parents of that race
ESL Final: This house believes that the courts should break up consistently dominant political parties
Masters Rd1: This house would buy local
Masters Final: This house prefers a philosopher King to a tyrannical democracy

Each team competes against the other, but they have to carefully cooperate with the other team on their side of the motion (it is not against the rules to attack the team on your side [to "knife" them], but it's VERY frowned upon). You want to contribute more to the debate, and argue more skillfully, than your side-mate in a way that builds from their position. For debate partners, you want to have a basic position, but each debater should build their own particular take on that position. The goal is to win that your basic principle or justification for your side, and effectively deal with opposing arguments.

WUDC (World University Debate Championship) rules
WUDC twitter
International Debate Education Association Worlds Debate
Guidelines for British Parliamentary debate