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."