Wednesday, December 5, 2007

WDI Sponsors International Debate Academy in Europe

The 5th International Debate Academy Slovenia has been completed. It was sponsored by ZIP-Slovenia and the World Debate Institute of the University of Vermont.

Representatives of 19 nations attended: Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, UK, Germany, Romania, Mongolia, Taiwan, India, USA, Serbia, Ukraine, Estonia, Canada, Singapore, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Russia, Slovenia, and Venezuela.

The faculty included:

* Loke Wing Fatt, SAID Singapore and WUDC breaking judge.
* Jens Fischer, Germany, Chief Adjudicator at Euros.
* Neill Harvey-Smith, WUDC finalist and Chief Adjudicator for Euros
2008, now with Debate Chambers, United Kingdom.
* Steve Llano, USA national champion coach, St. Johns University, USA.
* Branka Marusic, President of European Universities Debating
Council, Croatia.
* Rhydian Morgan, Chief Adjudicator at numerous UK tournaments, now
with GRM Communications, United Kingdom.
* Sam Nelson, USA national champion coach, Cornell University, USA.
* Uve Poom, Europeans EFL Champion and Euros 2008 organizer.
* Bojana Skrt, World Schools EFL Champion coach twice, Slovenia.
* Alfred Snider, Director of World Debate Institute, University of
Vermont, USA.

There were 5 instruction days, all with the same schedule:
8 AM Breakfast
8:45 AM Morning meeting
9 AM Lecture in three experience groups
10 AM Exercises and drills in six experience groups
11:30 AM Release of motion for practice debate, practice debate, critique
1 PM Lunch
3 PM Elective session (3 or 4 options, attend what you want)
4 PM Elective session (same, different topics)
5 PM Release of motion for practice debate, practice debate, critique
7 PM Dinner
Evenings Social activities and free time.

The faculty put on a very entertaining show debate, and you can see the video below.

A number of electives were designed to help people train others when they went back home.

We bused to Ljubljana for the tournament, six rounds and then semifinals. The President-elect of Slovenia welcomed us and gave us some handy debate advice. Before the finals the major of Ljubljana dropped in to wish us well. The break night party in a Ljubljana night club was, I am told, quite good.

You can read more at our blog, which is at
Our website for this year was at

The event received very positive evaluations from the students. Comments included:
- They definitely should attend because it expands both your debate ablilities and your perspective on the world as a whole. A very enjoyable and educational experience.
- If you want to learn how to debate and improve your debating skills, this programme is perfect for you.
- Academy is a great place to know yourself and people around you.
- It's great. Culturally I learned so much.
- Definitly attend. Lectures are excellent and diversity of people who attend is great and adds different perspectives.
- IDAS – changes your life.
- Want to learn to think faster? Attend!
- GO, GO, GO. Geat experience, lots of new things, see you next year.
- Fun time! Meet lots of great people! Work hard! Party hard!
- Brain training.
- Best decision I have made for a long long time.
- I believe this event is worth it.
- I can't wait for next year!
- If you want to learn something good about a culture of dialog this is the right place for you!
- It will change you, you'll learn a lot, listen to the best lecturers, you have to come!

The entire cost for tuition, room and all food, was 200 Euros, with many students receiving scholarships when they needed them.

Next year's 2008 dates are: arrive 23 November, 24-28 Instruction, 29-30 tournament.

Make plans to join us.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Singapore Ministry of Education Asks WDI to do Teacher Training

Photo: Part of crowd in Singapore at 2007 WDI training session

The World Debate Institute has become a global center for teacher training in the field of "Debate Across the Curriculum." Having done several such trainings in a number of countries as well as at WDI summer sessions, now the main instructors are sought after to provide expertise in teacher training.

The Singapore Ministry of Education has asked both WDI instructors, Alfred Snider and Bojana Skrt, to come to Singapore in March of 2008 (during the University of Vermont's spring break) to do a teacher workshop that aims to reach every school in the country. Last Spring the two did a workshop in Singapore on a much smaller scale but it was quite a success, with teachers and ministry officials asking for more.

We will have more news on this event as we get closer.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Preview of Schedule for 2008

Now available at

Check out the programs and start and stop times.

Hope to see you all there in 2008!

Friday, September 7, 2007

WDI Sponsors International Debate Conference in 2008

Last year's version of this conference, once again sponsored by WDI, had 120 attendees and over 80 academic papers.


2nd International Conference on Argumentation, Rhetoric, Debate and the Pedagogy of Empowerment
11-12-13 April 2008, Ljubljana, Slovenia

The conference begins with registration at 1200 11 April 2008.
The conference ends with the closing ceremony at 1500 13 April 2008.



The World Debate Institute at the University of Vermont USA, the National Education Institute of the Republic of Slovenia and ZIP, Za in proti, zavod za kulturo dialoga/ Pro et contra Institute for culture of dialogue Slovenia invite all scholars and practitioners of argumentation, rhetoric, debate, and educators using deliberative education methodologies to the International Conference on Argumentation, Rhetoric, Debate and the Pedagogy of Empowerment -- THINKING AND SPEAKING A BETTER WORLD, 11-13 April 2008, Ljubljana, Slovenia

The conference will welcome scholars and educators from diverse fields for vigorous dialogue and exchange. This conference will unite scholars of argumentation and rhetoric, teachers, and organizers of local, national and international debating networks to discuss critical thinking and advocacy discourse through pedagogy. We intend for the conference to welcome all who are involved in public discussions and debates about different issues.

This conference is extremely timely. A global information society which seeks reasoned solutions to problems through broad citizen involvement needs to develop and refine techniques for criticizing and validating ideas through discourse and then impart these to new generations of citizens if we are to create a better future and avoid looming crises. This conference represents a unique opportunity to share ideas, network and cross-fertilize with global critical thinkers.

The conference will generate a proceedings volume in the form of a book with completed papers. Submissions will be selected from the papers available at the conference.

The program for the conference will have three themes. Submissions are encouraged to center their work on one of the three themes and to submit proposals to the appropriate conference division. Interdisciplinary work that might fit into more than one category is welcome.

Argumentation and rhetoric. The use of logic and reason to criticize and analyze ideas through communication. Those interested in research on argumentation theory, criticisms of communication acts and scholarship on argumentation practice are encouraged to submit to this division.
Debate. The use of formal argumentation forums to educate and empower citizens. Those interested in work on the practice and theory of debate competition, public debates, research on the impact of debate for participants, and theorizing about debate paradigms are encouraged to submit to this division.
Critical thinking/pedagogy. Teaching and the methodology of teaching in the active classroom. Those interested in using debate, discussion and argumentation in classrooms, discussion of experiences and teaching lessons relating to communication and critical thinking are encouraged to submit to this division.

Paper proposals (a less than one-page abstract) should be submitted as soon as possible but not later than 15 February 2008. The committees will evaluate proposals in hand each month and inform those submitting papers of the committee's decision. Full copies of papers should be provided electronically by the beginning of the conference. ALL PAPERS AND PRESENTATIONS MUST BE IN ENGLISH.

Format for papers will be that of the Modern Language Association. For information, see . You can download a copy of the guidelines at .

A committee of conference organizers and scholars will examine submissions to each division.

The members of the argumentation division committee are:
David Williams, Florida Atlantic University, USA
Frans van Eemeren, Department of Speech Communication, Argumentation Theory and Rhetoric, University of Amsterdam (invited)

The members of the debate division committee are:
Bojana Skrt, ZIP Slovenia.
Sam Nelson, Cornell University, USA
Loke Wing Fatt, SAID, Singapore

The members of the pedagogy division committee are:
Alfred Snider, University of Vermont USA
Zora Rutar, National Education Institute, Slovenia
Maria Wolrath Söderberg, Department of Rhetoric, Södertörn University College, Sweden

Proposals and full papers for argumentation should be sent to David Williams at
Proposals and full papers for debate should be sent to Bojana Skrt at
Proposals and full papers for pedagogy should be sent to Alfred Snider at

Those wishing to attend the conference without submitting a paper are very welcome but must register.

The Conference will be held at various venues in Ljubljana. The participation fee is 65 Euros and covers the conference sessions, reception, coffee breaks and materials as well as a banquet. The participants will be accommodated in different locations in Ljubljana, depending on the budget option they choose. There are different accommodations possible, from low cost high school dormitory to moderate hotels in Ljubljana to the best hotels in Ljubljana. Low cost accommodations must register through Bojana Skrt, while all others must be booked by the attendees. We will be supplying a list of suggested hotels soon. The conference is a non-profit project and all organizers are unpaid. The participation fee is designed to cover costs only.

Please note that registration for admission to the conference and low cost housing must be coordinated through Bojana Skrt Registration deadline is 15 March 2008.

The payment for the participation fee should be transferred to ZIP bank account by March 15 2008 or in cash on arrival. All inquires about application, payment and other information should be sent to Bojana Skrt at

Travel to Ljubljana is possible through many forms. Regular air service from most European cities is available, including on a number of discount airlines such as Easyjet. Train and bus service is convenient with arrivals at the city center. We will not be arranging pick ups from arrival points because it is quite easy. We will be publishing low cost options for airport pick up.

Ljubljana travel guides can be found at:

Organizing committee:
Bojana Skrt, Za in proti, zavod za kulturo dialoga, Slovenia
Alfred C. Snider, World Debate Institute, University of Vermont, USA

WDI Program in Europe in November 2007

WDI also sponsors world class debate training in other countries. Here is some information about the Fifth International Debate Academy to be held in Slovenia.


IDAS 2007


For university students and trainers/teachers
17th – 25th November 2007, Ormož/Ljubljana, Slovenia

Organized by:
ZIP – Za in proti (ZIP), Pro et Contra, Institute for the Culture of Dialogue, Slovenia
WDI – World Debate Institute, University of Vermont, USA

Webpage, registration form, scholarship form:

What is it about?
It is the most international British Parliamentary Debate Training in the world with a distinguished training group. Attendees have come from over 26 different debating nations. The program involves a rigorous combination of lectures, skill exercise sessions and two practice debates per day. A major tournament will take place at the end. This year the tournament at the end of the Academy is open to all interested university debaters, so everybody who does not have time to come for the whole week can join us only for the tournament.

International Debate Academy Instructional Sessions - Ormož, Slovenia November 17-23 2008.
International Debate Academy Tournament - Ljubljana, Slovenia November 23-25 2008.


Jens Fischer, Berlin Debating Union, Germany, Europeans CA
Neill Harvey-Smith, UK, Former WUDC Finalist
Branka Josimov, ACCD, Serbia
Steve Llano, St. Johns University, USA
Loke Wing Fatt, SAID, Singapore, WUDC breaking judge
Branka Marušic, EUDC President, Croatia
Rhydian Morgan, UK, CA Euros Warm-Up
Sam Nelson, Cornell University, USA
Uve Poom, Estonia, 2007 Euro EFL Champion
Bojana Skrt, Za in proti, zavod za kulturo dialoga, Slovenia
Alfred C. Snider, University of Vermont, USA, Director, World Debate Institute


Dates for the Academy Instructional Sessions
Arrival: Saturday, the 17th, opening of the Academy at 1700 hours.
Departure for Ljubljana on organized bus: Friday morning, the 23 November 2008.

Dates only for the tournament
Arrival: Friday, the 23nd tournament begins at 1400 hours.
Departure: Sunday, the 25th late afternoon

Who can apply?

Students: For the whole Academy, everybody interested in debating is welcome, and can be beginners or they can be very experienced. The training will be divided into different tracks, based on the participant’s needs and experience, but reflecting realistic pedagogical needs. Attendees will take a chartered bus to Ljubljana for the tournament.

Students: For the tournament only. Come and join us for spirited competition and fellowship. For the tournament only you apply as a team. One judge per 1 or 2 teams, 2 judges per 3 or 4 teams. Arrive in Ljubljana on Friday 23 November 2008 by 1200 hours.

Trainers and Teachers: We will also have a track for trainers, coaches, team organizers and club trainers that will be far more flexible. See how debate training is done by those experienced, attend seminars on materials and technique, learn adjudication and a lot more. Trainers will accompany everyone to Ljubljana and will judge at the tournament.

Participation fee
The whole Academy (it covers 8 days full room and board – accommodation/food, training and materials) 200 EURO.
Tournament only (it covers 2 days full room and board – accommodation/food, tournament expenses) 45 EURO.
The payment should be made in cash on arrival.
This is a non-profit project, and no organizers or trainers are paid for their effort. Fees are designed to cover some costs only.

There are limited scholarships available. The scholarship application procedure is as follows: submit a scholarship form, receive a scholarship, and formally accept the scholarship. Scholarships will not be available for travel. SCHOLARSHIP SUBMISSION DEADLINE IS 1 OCTOBER 2008. Download the scholarship application at .

Application deadline: October, 15th 2007
Spaces are limited. If there is too much demand selection will be made based on regional diversity and experience.

Organizing committee:
Director of the Academy: Bojana Skrt, ZIP,
Head of the Training: Alfred C. Snider, World Debate Institute, University of Vermont,

To Register and For Information:
Director of communication and registration: Sintija Dobrotinšek, ZIP,



Topic area will emphasize the theme of equal opportunities.

Monday, August 13, 2007

College Policy Demo Debate #2 Available Now

From the World Debate Institute at the University of Vermont, comes this lengthy debate.

This policy debate is on the topic:
Resolved: that the United States Federal Government should increase its constructive engagement with the government of one or more of: Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, and Syria, and it should include offering them a security guarantee(s) and/or a substantial increase in foreign assistance.

The debate featured four outstanding debaters, Doowan Chung of Wake Forest, Brian Rubiae of Texas-Dallas, Eric Cole of West Georgia and Liz Lauzon of Richmond. This was the second demonstration debate of the two-week program.

Dr. Kevin Kuswa of Richmond leads a discussion after the debate.

In case you do not know, American policy debate takes place at high speed and utilizes a lot of quoted evidence read into the debate. The audio quality of these files is good enough to hear the voices very well.

There are two parts, get both, right click to download these large files, best viewed through iTunes:

To see our newest video files with the most recent on on top, go to:

College Parliamentary Debate Workshop Concludes

The College Parliamentary Debate Workshop concluded on Friday in a happy expression of celebration as the students and faculty members congratulated each other on how the week had gone. In that week there had been eleven small group instructional timeslots in which several different subjects were being taught that students could choose between. There had also been twelve debates that students had participated in.

Just before the closing assembly director Steve Woods had given students an "open" topic for their last debate (this house believes that the glass is half full) and it produced some very entertaining interchanges with the subject mater of the different debates varying widely. One team had argued that the workshop session had been a success, to which the opposition filed some serious disagreements, all while a team from the WDI marketing staff was observing the debate.

Hat winners above: Matt Garver of Tennessee Tech, Marianne Caballero of Universidad Catholica Andres Bello Venezuela, Anna Rawson of Vermont, Jese Swett of Vermont, and Zach Wilkes of Louisiana

Once again, the hats were the crucial event of the closing assembly. They are given to those students who contribute the most to the academic and intellectual atmosphere of the program, and there was easy agreement on the five winners.

The parliamentary program at WDI keeps growing and if this session is any indication, it will continue to do so in the future. A huge thanks must go to the faculty who designed and implemented the program.

College Policy Debate Workshop Ends

After a mini-tournament the College Policy Debate Workshop came to an end on Friday. Two weeks of hard work by students with many of them stretching themselves to the limit had come to an end.

In the final round on a 6-1 decision Max Adler of the New School in NYC and Ben Dabiri of the University of Oklahoma emerged victorious. The second place team was Callie Dowdy and James Farr of Richmond. There was a lengthy discussion by the judges (students at the workshop) after the debate.

<== WDI 2007 Scholars: Kyle Zarazan, Liz Lauzon, Brian Rubaie, Eric Cole and Doowan Chung

Many thanks were given to the WDI Scholars who had worked so hard and done so much to help every student and every instructor during the two weeks. They were chosen in the spring from among many outstanding debaters who applied for the positions, and the choice had been difficult. But, it had been a good one, as the results showed. Everyone seemed very grateful for all that the scholars had done.

<== Hat winners: Rachel Ford of Appalachian State, Ashley Fortner of Richmond, Callie Dowdy of Richmond and Ben Dabiri of Oklahoma

The main awards are the "hats" that symbolize the decisions by the faculty as to which students had contributed most to the academic and intellectual environment of the program. The choices were difficult, but the winners were announced and everyone seemed excited about the choices.

After a sub-par summer last year, the College Policy Workshop has bounced back under the leadership of the four dedicated senior faculty members who planned and implemented the program. With an impressive showing this summer, the future looks bright.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Great Deeds by IDAS Alumni

The World Debate Institute also sponsors the International Debate Academy held each November in Slovenia. For information about the upcoming fifth year, go to

<== Urska Derganc debating

Four graduates have achieved lofty goals at the recent European Universities Debating Championship.

Uve Poom, a finalist at IDAS 2006, has won the European EFL championship. Uve, from Estonia, is a dedicated debater who has debated at a wide variety of tournaments but has also been an important debate organizer, having been part of the Tallinn Open and now the winning bid for Euros 2008 to be held in Tallinn. Congratulations, Uve!

Branka Marusic of Croatia has been elected President of the EUDC. She was also in the IDAS 2006 final and in the upcoming year will serve as a faculty member. She has been an energetic debate organizer in Croatia as well as in southern and eastern Europe. Congratulations, Branka!

Ljubljana Law A, consisting of Urska Derganc and Jure Planinsek, reached the EFL semifinals at Europeans. Urska was Uve's partner last year at IDAS 2006 when they reached the finals. Jure is also an IDAS graduate. Congratulations to both of you!

Excitement is now starting to build for the 2007 IDAS. Here is a list of faculty, with more coming:
Alfred C. Snider, University of Vermont, USA, Director, World Debate Institute
Loke Wing Fatt, SAID, Singapore, WUDC breaking judge
Jens Fischer, Berlin Debating Union, Germany, Europeans CA
Neill Harvey-Smith, UK, Former WUDC Finalist
Branka Josimov, ACCD, Serbia
Branka Marušic, EUDC President, HDD, Croatia
Rhydian Morgan, UK, CA Euros Warm-Up
Sam Nelson, Cornell University, USA
Steve Llano, St. Johns University, USA
Bojana Skrt, Za in proti, zavod za kulturo dialoga, Slovenia

Friday, August 10, 2007

College Policy Debate Workshop Produces Huge Evidence Set

"Wow," was the expression Dr. Kevin Kuswa of the University of Richmond used when seeing the intense stack of research that had been produced by the college policy debaters. "It is huge, it is high quality, everything is typed and easy to read, and the arguments are extremely creative. What more could you want?"

If you know policy debate in America (one broad topic all year long), then you know that research and evidence are extremely important.

The evidence set is perhaps better than any set ever produced by the college program at WDI. If you want to have a look at the indexes for all of the files, do so at:

Unlike other workshops, you cannot simply buy the WDI evidence set. You get one (on a CD, all high quality pdf files) if you are enrolled in the program. The CD also contains videos of the topic lectures and a policy debate textbook.

Congratulations to the hard working students, scholars and faculty who made this possible.

World Schools Final Round Now Online

<== Teams in the Finals

The final round of the World Schools Workshop is now online.

The motion was:
This House would ban elective cosmetic surgery.

The judges were James Probert of the English Speaking Union in London, Peejay Garcia the national World Schools coach for Korea, and Alfred Snider th director of WDI.

The decision was 2-1 for the opposition.

Right click to download the large file, best viewed in iTunes:

To see the latest in the video library with the most rcent video first, go to:

Thursday, August 9, 2007

College Policy Tournament Is Underway

College Parliamentary Faculty Poses for a Photo

The WDI College Parliamentary Workshop senior faculty took some time out of their busy schedule to pose for a photo on the fourth floor of Waterman Hall where the program is located. Pardon the look on their faces, because we find them here at the end of a very long day.

Left to right, Steve Woods of Western Washington University, Bojana Skrt of Z.I.P. Slovenia, Sam Nelson of Cornell University, Steve Llano of St. Johns University, and Ann Canavan of Northern Illinois University.

WDI College Policy Topic Lectures Now Online

From the World Debate Institute National College Policy Debate Workshop held at the University of Vermont, you can see the lectures even though you were not in attendance.

We have six college policy topic lectures that we are sharing. There were others, but we have picked these six.

The topic is - Resolved: that the United States Federal Government should increase its constructive engagement with the government of one or more of: Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, and Syria, and it should include offering them a security guarantee(s) and/or a substantial increase in foreign assistance.

Right click to download, click to watch right away, bigger files best viewed through iTunes. We suggest that you download (right click) them and then watch. Bigger files look fine in full screen.

Smaller files: (less than 100 MB)

Larger files: (full podcast format, can be large)

Too see our full library of debate related new videos with most recent on top, go to:

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

College Policy Evidence Set

We are coming up on the end of wave 2 of research for the National College Policy Debate Workshop here at WDI. This year has been perhaps the best ever in terms of the quality and depth of the research that the students have produced.

<== Main copier in the Men's Dressing Room (note make up mirrors)

There were some late hours spent last evening as people completed their assignments, and now they are coming in to be printed. We have a two-day tournament starting tomorrow. Our most awesome main copier has now made it through the entire copying load without ONE paper jam (knock on wood). This is also a new WDI record. The print room is in the men's dressing room at the Royall Tyler Theatre, so there are lots of mirrors and such in the room.

Lots of printing today, new argument briefing this afternoon, and then distribution of the evidence sets.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

College Parliamentary Workshop In Full Swing

The National College Parliamentary Debate Workshop is in full swing here at the University of Vermont. This one-week event has attracted students from many different backgrounds and experience levels.

<== Prep before practice debate

Steve Woods of Western Washington University is the director of the program. He has been a coach for twenty years and has national championships and national top speakers to his credit. Last year his squad was fifth in the NPDA national sweepstakes race. Joining Steve are an impressive group of senior faculty members. Sam Nelson of Cornell is here to carry forward his commitment to all formats of debate. Sam has national championships to his credit, but also specializes in building national stature debate programs, as he did at the University of Rochester before deciding to dedicate himself to rebuilding the Cornell program, where he had been an assistant coach years ago. He also teaches internationally and runs a debate outreach program that serves youth in prison. Steve Llano of St. Johns University is also back at WDI after an absence of two years while he worked on his doctoral degree at the University of Pittsburgh. Steve has a storied coaching history, and coached at Rochester during their run to the national sweepstakes championship. He plans on directing a parliamentary program at his new position at St. Johns. Ann Canavan, previously of Tennessee Tech and now at Northern Illinois, is also back. Ann has been at WDI previously. She has been travelling a lot internationally and in the last year has presented two papers at international conferences in Europe. Finally, Bojana Skrt, fresh off of her directing of the World Schools Debate Workshop for high school students (from five countries) and the Deliberation Across the Curriculum Workshop held for teachers. Bojana, of course, has considerable parliamentary debate experience, having twice won the WSDC EFL world title and has directed the International Debate Academy in Europe for the last four years, teaching students from over 25 countries.

<== More prep

The days at the workshop are somewhat similar. Each involves a debate and a series of lectures (students get to choose which to attend of those offered), lunch, then more of these "elective" lectures followed by another critiqued debate. Each evening their is a voluntary "open forum" held to answer any questions or issues while always having a content component, such as Steve Llano's "Samurai Debate" presentation as well as Bojana Skrt's "Tournament Basics."

Friday, August 3, 2007

World Schools Debate Workshop Ends

<== WDI World Schools Champs

The two-week World Schools Debating Workshop for high school students ended on Thursday, August 2, 2007. After six preliminary rounds of debate two teams with the best record (both 4-2) met in the final round.

The final round was held on the motion, This House would ban elective cosmetic surgery. A spirited debate was judged by James Probert, Peejay Garcia and Alfred Snider. On a 2-1 decision the opposition, composed of
Varun Tyagi, Dong Whan Lee and Hyunji Lee won a victory over the opposition of Anja Juvancic, Tim Pushnik Jausovec and Eunsung Yang.

<== WDI World Schools Top 6 Speakers

The top six speakers were:
1. Varun Tyagi, USA
2. Helen White, Canada
3. Anthony McGuire, USA
4. Ji Won Choi, Korea
5. Won Ho Choi, Korea
6. Anja Juvancic, Slovenia

It was interesting that many of the teams in the tournament had almost as many points as the top teams, indicating a very even aggregation of talent among the teams.

T-shirts and certificates were handed out.

All pronounced the workshop a success in its first year, and vowed to work to make a second year bigger and better.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Evening Policy Debate Demo Debate

There was a demonstration debate at WDI this evening, with Brian Rubaie of Texas Dallas and Doowan Chung of Wake Forest on the affirmative and Kyle Zarazan of Kansas State and Liz Lauzon of Richmond on the negative. The topic is the current national college policy debate topic:
Resolved: that the United States Federal Government should increase its
constructive engagement with the government of one or more of: Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, and Syria, and it should include offering them a security guarantee(s) and/or a substantial increase in foreign assistance.

There was a nice crowd to flow the debate and cheer them on.

We will process the video and make it available as a podcast later. We will make the announcement here.

,++ Flowing

World Schools Workshop Tournament Has Begun

The World Schools workshop students, who come from five different countries, have entered the final phase of their program -- the tournament. There will be a six round tournament and then the top two teams will stage a final top determine the WDI World Schools Champion.

Students come from the USA, Korea, Canada, Malaysia and Slovenia, some of the best debating nations in the world. After working with an all-star international faculty, it is now down to business.

They will debate three topic that they have prepared four as well as three topics that are given to them one hour before the debate. The rush has been on in the pursuit of information and good arguments for the last few days, and with the final scheduled for tomorrow now is the key time.

Two students are pictured here. Helen who debates for Canada and Tim who debates for Slovenia. We will post the results and hope to have a video of the final to show you.

College Policy Debate Workshop In Full Swing

As July ended the air was full of debating at the World Debate Institute. The college policy debaters were having their daily practice debates in the Old Mill complex right next to the Royall Tyler Theatre, the headquarter of the WDI.

There was a wide variety of experience on display. Some of the students here are among the finest debaters in America and are working hard now to prepare for a year that will prove that. On the other hand, there are fairly new debaters here. The good part is that they are very accepting of one another and work together on research assignments. Some of the more experienced debaters have been helping the less experienced by watching their debates and making comments. There is no doubt that learning to judge debates also makes one a better debater. The senior faculty, Kevin, Jackie, Sarah and David have done a great job of bringing divergent groups of students together.

We have also seen the considerable progress of Max Adler from New York City. Max is an extremely intelligent young man but he cannot talk. But, he can debate. He has been working with a pair of American Sign Language translators to "get their signs straight" and is developing new methods of taking notes. We will talk more about Max in the future.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Teacher Workshops Begin

<== Some of the teachers attending

We have two teacher workshops going on this week.

One is being led by John Meany and it is a teacher/coach workshop for those who want to learn how or improve their ability to lead a competitive debate program. The program will cover organization, recruiting, training, judging, tournament preparation as well as covering the major debate formats that the teachers are interested in. The program is five-days long and goes from 9 AM until 5 PM.

The other program is being led by Bojana Skrt with help from Alfred Snider and it is called "Deliberation Across the Curriculum." This is similar to last year's workshop at WDI as ell as other similar workshops that have been held in Singapore, Slovenia, Montenegro and other locations. Attending are teachers who want to use debate in the classroom to teach their current subjects. The class utilizes MANY SIDES: DEBATE ACROSS THE CURRICULUM, a book written by Maxwell Schnurer and Snider, now in its second edition. The reason it has been changed from just "debate" to "deliberation" is that many of the techniques (round table discussion, mock trial, legislative assembly) are not really debates but are still quite beneficial.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Television Programs Now Available

All three of the 30-minute television discussions staged by the Pakistani students in the International Student Leaders program at WDI are now available online.

Right click to download, click to watch right away, best viewd through iTunes:

Stereotypes of Muslims and Americans

The Future of the UN

Justifications for Intervention

College Policy Debate Workshop Begins

College policy senior faculty from left to right: Jackie Massey of Oklahoma, Sarah Green of Kansas State, David Register of Vermont and Kevin Kuswa of Richmond.

One program departs and another one arrives as WDI's busy summer continues. Now we have a group of college debaters who are preparing to debate the national policy debate topic next academic year.

The topic is:
Resolved: that the United States Federal Government should increase its constructive engagement with the government of one or more of: Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, and Syria, and it should include offering them a security guarantee(s) and/or a substantial increase in foreign assistance.

There are four senior faculty members in the program.
Kevin Kuswa is a professor at the University of Richmond and the director of debate. One of the most respected debate coaches in America, he was the top speaker in debate at high school nationals in his senior year and as a college debater he won the national championship by winning the National Debate Tournament for Georgetown University.
Sarah Green (recently changed from Snider) is a debate coach at Kansas State University. She has previously coached at Vermont and at Rochester. While at Rochester her teams won the NDT national sweepstakes title. For three years she was the director of the District of Columbia Urban Debate League. She reached the elimination rounds at CEDA Nationals and the NDT as a debater for Vermont.
David Register and reigning national champion coach Jackie Massey are here after teaching in the high school policy debate workshop.

Friday, July 27, 2007

High School Policy Camp Comes to a Close

The High School Policy Debate Workshop has ended. The tournament was completed and the students left this morning. I have to say that they were a truly outstanding group. Not only was there research work excellent, but they also debated with zest and always tried to do their best. It was a very impressive group. For example, of the many hundreds of books checked out on the topic, ALL of them were returned by day two of the tournament.

The faculty also did an amazing job, always cheerful and willing to do more when they needed so, they certainly made my work directing the program easier.

Here are the results from the tournament.




2. RYAN MOORE 111-6
3. JANE CAVALIER 110.5-6
4. JOSE RIVERA 110.5-8
6. ALIM MOHAMMED 110.5-11

The most important awards we give out are the "hats." Hats go to those students who have done the most to improve the intellectual environment of the workshop. Our winners were: Brittany Brown, Michelle Likhtshteyn, Stormee Massey and Tyler Schwind. Congratulations to these students for making the experience better for everyone else.

It was sad for people to be saying goodbye, but that is the nature of the WDI experience. It comes, it happens in a storm of activity that changes lives and then it is gone and those who have experienced it are back in their normal lives, but in some ways always changed.

Pakistani Students Discuss Stereotypes of Muslims and Americans

This is a group of Pakistani students who attended the International Student Leaders Program held in cooperation with the World Debate Institute this summer at the University of Vermont. Students designed, rehearsed and then filmed a round table discussion on this issue. For more information go to: .

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Pakistani Students Featured in Local Newspaper


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Kanza Agha, 22 (from left), works with Sultan Baber Mirza, 20; Ayesha Imran, 21; John Meany, director of forensics at Claremont McKenna College in California; David Paul, 20; and Sidra Saeed, 22, as they prepare Tuesday at the University of Vermont for a roundtable discussions that will air on cable television.

Pakistanis visit to build bridges

Published: Thursday, July 26, 2007
By Tim Johnson
Free Press Staff Writer

The overseas visitors were talking about how they keep up with world events when they're in their home country, and several mentioned Fox News.

Was Fox News their main news source in Pakistan? They smiled.

"We watch it for fun," said Mustafa Haroon, as others nodded. Some said they like CNN. Samir Anwar said he preferred the BBC.

"British media are more unbiased than American media," he said.

They were talking over lunch in the dining hall of Harris-Millis, a dorm at the University of Vermont. For these 17 Pakistani university students, spending a month at UVM courtesy of the U.S. State Department, lunch these days consists of pasta, nachos, French fries, brownies -- not exactly the spicy fare they're used to. No meat for most of them, either. Not that they're vegetarians, but halal meat -- slaughtered according to Muslim law -- isn't available. They eat a lot of cheese pizza. Eating pizza is nothing new -- Pizza Huts can be found in Pakistan -- but eating it every day is.

The students are no strangers to American culture, but this is their first visit to the United States. Part of what they find striking has to do not with American culture, but with Vermont.

They're surprised to find so few supporters of President Bush. They knew Vermont was a "blue state," having followed CNN's election coverage, but this blue?

For a little variety, one of their UVM coordinators is planning to take them on a field trip to New Hampshire next week. Among the stops: Mitt Romney's campaign headquarters.

They're surprised that government officials are so accessible. They spent 40 minutes with the governor. They interviewed Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss.

Some of that accessibility is inherent to Vermont, or Burlington, where it's not unusual for pedestrians on Church Street to cross paths with the mayor or a U.S. senator. It's also true that doors have been opened for these visitors as guests of the U.S. government. Selected students from Pakistan and about 10 other countries, including China, Nigeria and Ecuador, are staying at universities around the country and will convene in Washington, D.C., for a few days at the end to compare notes and make presentations. Another Pakistani delegation is in Carbondale, Ill., at Southern Illinois University.

The State Department's stated rationale is to build bridges to other countries by exposing future leaders to American culture. The 36 Pakistani students spending a month in Vermont and Illinois are Fulbright scholars who were selected from about 1,200 applicants. Not surprisingly, the members of the UVM delegation come across as articulate, self-assured and with a kind of worldly sophistication.

"The idea is to increase mutual understanding between Pakistan and the U.S.," said Jennifer Phillips, program officer with the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, who visited Burlington last week to check on the program. "From a foreign policy perspective, we think it will improve relations and break down barriers and misconceptions. I really think they are having a life-changing experience."

Life-changing or not, some of their experience will be unforgettable -- beginning with their arrival at U.S. airports. Anwar flew in to Newark, where immigration officials detained him for five hours without explanation, without food and without even bothering to interview him, he said. He missed his connecting flight and spent his first night in the United States sleeping in the airport.

Others arrived at O'Hare, in Chicago. The male students were detained for four hours by immigration officials. Haya Fatima, one of the female students, recalled overhearing one official calling out to another: "Hey, should the Pakistani females be included?" The answer was no, and the women weren't detained, but they waited nevertheless for the men to be released. They all missed their connecting flight to Burlington.

They tell these stories with some amusement and without apparent bitterness. Once they got through immigration, they say, virtually everyone has been friendly and welcoming.

They have maintained a full schedule at UVM, with seminars on history and culture, religious diversity and politics, interspersed with field trips (including a visit to Bread and Puppet Theater in Glover) and sessions with various government officials. In keeping with one of UVM's favorite themes, they attended daily classes for a week on facets of sustainability.

For poor people in Pakistan, Hira Sarfraz acknowledged, the notion of sustainability is largely irrelevant -- after all, people struggling to survive care less about the environment. For these students, however, the idea makes some sense: relying on local resources and thinking ahead about the relationship between community and environment, as Haroon put it.

This week, their regimen has included morning workshops on public speaking led by two experts on forensics, UVM's Alfred "Tuna" Snider and John Meany, of Claremont McKenna College in California. On Tuesday morning, they each delivered a four-minute speech on topics that ranged from cultural diversity to U.S.-Pakistani relations. They spoke fluently, with humor. They've used English throughout their school careers (it's a common medium of instruction in Pakistan), along with Urdu, the other language they share. At home with their families, they're more likely to speak a regional language.

Their forensics mentors offered some tips on how to improve their performances -- in advance of their "live on tape" appearance on "Flashpoint," a weekly TV show on Channel 15; and their upcoming presentations in Washington.

Meany was impressed. Speakers whose first language isn't English typically lack polish or confidence, he said -- but not these students.

"This is my fifth international exchange this year," he said. "The real difference with this group is how consistently excellent they are with their English language skills. They're persuasive, sophisticated, and they're so confident in expressing themselves on these issues."

"They're fantastic," he said.

Contact Tim Johnson at 660-1808 or

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pakistan Students at World Debate Institute

On a grant from the US Department of State seventeen young Pakistani students are at the University of Vermont for four weeks attending the Study of the United States-Institutes for Student Leaders. After a rigorous selection process these students were brought to the USA and are at the University of Vermont while other groups at at eight other colleges and universities. Find more information at

This week they are attending a special World Debate Institute session held just for them. The goal is to sharpen communication skills as well as familiarizing them with some of the discourse habits of Vermont, including small group discussion and larger town meeting simulations. The instructors are Alfred Snider, director of WDI, and John Meany, director of forensics at the Claremont Colleges in California.

After one day of instruction in public speaking and argumentation on Monday, students delivered critiqued speeches on Tuesday morning and then after lunch formed small group discussion pods and began working on their presentation for the next day. On Wednesday morning the entire crew was at Vermont Community Access Media . They were there to tape three episodes of the local television program "Flashpoint," offered by the University of Vermont debate program, the Lawrence Debate Union.

The students staged three 28-minute discussions on three topics: Stereotypes of Muslims and Americans, Modern role of the United Nations and finally Justifications for intervention. The program tapings went very well and they will soon be available at the Flashpoint website .

Tomorrow the students will have their town meeting simulation, but the topic of it will be an international one and they will have some assigned roles.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

High School Topic Lectures Online Now!

A happy team at WDI

The lectures providing background as well as debate ground for the 2007-2008 national high school debate topic about public assistance to sub-Saharan Africa are now available online.

Go to and look for files like

You will find three-part lectures about the topic by Gordie Miller and Jackie Massey.

World Schools Lectures Online

Watch them all. Check back here for more links.

This is a lecture by Bojana Skrt of Slovenia. It was the opening lecture of the World Schools Debate Workshop at the World Debate Institute. Others will follow. The World Schools format is rapidly becoming more and more popular for competition outside of the championship itself.

There are two sizes, one fairly small (36.9 MB) , and the other fairly large (podcast 399 MB).

Right click to download, click to watch while downloading, best viewed with QuickTime or iTunes.
Small file:
Large file:

Monday, July 23, 2007

World Schools Workshop Debates Challenging Topics

Senior faculty members: Peejay Garcia, Korea National Coach, James Probert, Head of the Center for Speech and Debate at the English Speaking Union in London and Bojana Skrt, workshop director and Slovenia National Coach

As you may or may not know the World Schools Debate format uses a mixture of prepared topics and impromptu topics. Half of the topics are announced in advanced and it is assumed that the students will do substantial research and brainstorming in building their cases. For the impromptu topics they get a dictionary, one almanac and one hour to, among the team, decide what to argue and which strategies to employ.

The topics for this session are listed below, and they are picked day by day, and not all of them will be used.

This house would ban the serving of junk food in the schools.
This house would lower the voting age to 16.
This house would introduce 21 years as minimum drinking age.
This house would ban elective cosmetic surgeries.
This house believes that current media portrayal of women does more harm than good.
TH would broadcast executions.
This house would have harsher sentences for celebrity criminals.
TH would ban religious symbols in state schools.
TH believes cultural artifacts should be returned to the countries of origin.
TH believes marriage is an outdated concept.

This house would negotiate with terrorists.
This house would apologize for colonialism.
This house would make reparations for slavery.
This house should abandon civilian use of nuclear power.
This house believes hate speech should become a crime.
This house believes that civil liberties must be restricted in the interests of security.
This house believes free trade harms more than helps developing countries
This house would substantially decrease agriculture subsidies.
This house would tie world bank aid to women's rights.
This house believes Jerusalem should become an independent city.
This house should send armed forces to stop Darfur crisis.
This house should support a Kurdish state.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

World Schools Debate Workshop Begins

Bojana Skrt opens the session

The two-week World Schools Debate Workshop began today. Students from three continents have come to learn with and from three of the top debate educators in the world.

Bojana Skrt is the director of the program, but is director of Z.I.P., the NGO that organizes debating activities at all levels in Slovenia. She has two EFL world titles to her credit and has organized a large and thriving debate community at all levels in Slovenia as ell as promoting debating globally and especially in he former Yugoslav countries. She was recently elected to be on the World Schools Council. This is her fourth year at WDI.

James Probert is the head of the Centre for Speech and Debate at the English Speaking Union that organizes speech and debate activities globally from their base in London. James was a member of the England World Schools team that made it to the finals in 1999. James has been a judge at World Schools seven times and has taught debating in 25 countries. He was also recently elected to be on the World Schools Council. This is his second year at WDI.

Peejay Garcia smiles for the camera

Peejay Garcia is from the Philippines, but is as international as a debate educator can get. He was the Asian champion while debating for Ateneo de Manilla. After a successful coaching stint in Thailand, he became coach of the Korean national debate team for World Schools. His team has had a wonderful run in th last two years. This is his first year at WDI.

Others will drop in to lecture, such as myself (Alfred Snider) as well as John Meany.

The students began debating immediately, and will have at least 20 debates before the two weeks are up. Debate is a skill, and you learn it through practice and repetition.

The students are an incredibly diverse group, but all share a certain intensity we can already detect in their earliest performances.

Watch for lectures to be available soon.

High School Policy Camp Advances With Rigor

Here at the World Debate Institute the High School Policy Debate Workshop has achieved their goals of producing an excellent set of evidenced arguments for the first wave. Gordie Miller's group was first in the race to the finish line with his Agency for International development good/bad file was a basic one people need to have. Others followed, including a huge critique of development discourse argument produced by her students, David Register's group finished their female genital cutting affirmative, and Jackie Massey's group finished their affirmative case on providing therapy for sub-Saharan African victims of landmines.

We had an exceptionally long practice debate on Friday. We decided that we would devote the entire afternoon to a "stop-and-go" debate where at each stage of the debate you advise students, give guidance and then repeat some speeches. The results seemed to be excellent as the student felt it was a strong learning experience -- learning by doing and cooperation.

The students deserved the afternoon excursion to downtown Burlington they got on Saturday.