Thursday, December 4, 2008

IDAS-WDI Videos Now Available

Faculty from 2008 pose at celebration dinner

Many videos are now available from the International Debate Academy 2008 recently concluded in Slovenia (IDAS). The videos feature a wide variety of subjects in training for the WUDC format from a wide variety of instructors from all over the world.

A complete archive can be found at where the videos listed as "idas08" are the ones you are interested in. This is a huge archive and may contain many other videos of interest to you.

The videos will be individually released with annotations on the Debate Video website at .

The videos are all in the .M4V or Podcast format. They can be watched from within your iTunes player or by opening them from within the Quicktime application. Because they are high quality and relatively large, you might want to download them.

For latest IDAS news go to

For Information about IDAS go to

Sunday, November 30, 2008

WDI Europe Results








THBT the United Nations should send a multinational peacekeeping force to Sri Lanka.





THBT violent action to protect the environment is justified.


Position Name Team Total points Average Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 Round 6
1 Natale Caress-Natale 482 80.33 85 77 83 78 83 76
2 Hildebrandt Hildebrandt-Asyamova 476 79.33 82 82 74 77 83 78
2 (3) Plostajner Jakovac-Plostajner 476 79.33 75 79 81 79 78 84
4 (5) Asaymova Hildebrandt-Asyamova 472 78.66 81 80 76 74 84 77
4 Podlogar Podlogar-Janzek 472 78.66 80 81 79 73 80 79
6 Dobranic Cimerman-Dobranic 470 78.33 78 78 80 82 77 75
6 (7) Caress Caress-Natale 470 78.33 82 76 79 75 82 76
8 (9) Cimerman Cimerman-Dobranic 468 78.00 76 79 78 81 78 76
8 Jakovac Jakovac-Plostajner 468 78.00 65 82 82 78 77 84
8 (10) Zveplan Zveplan-Cvikl 468 78.00 75 76 78 84 78 77


THW make voting compulsory.

THW not negotiate with the leaders of Iran.

This house would not prosecute battered wives for killing their husbands.

TH would allow the advertising of prescription drugs.

THBT governments should not bailout failing corporations.

This House would ban international adoption.

THBT the United Nations should send a multinational peacekeeping force to Sri Lanka.

THBT violent action to protect the environment is justified.

Full results at bottom of USA WUDC results page:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

WDI Europe/International Debate Academy Begins

Sam Greenland speaks in the demo debate

Arrivals can be difficult and this one was no exception. All are now here and safe. Now we are about 80 people from 15 countries here for a week before we move to Maribor for the tournament.

Sunday night most people had arrived and a demo debate was featured. The motion was “This house would punish parents for the crimes of their minor children." It was an all-star cast, with Debbie Newman (world champion WSDC coach for England, England-Wales debate champion, former president of Cambridge Union) debating with Sam Greenland (Sydney WUDC semifinalist in 2007, former Hong Kong WSDC coach) were opening proposition, Sam Natale (top speaker, Northeast Universities 2008, University of Vermont) and Lucas Caress (top speaker, Global Youth Debate Conclave, Bangalore 2008, University of Vermont) were closing proposition; Filip Dobranic (twice top EFL speaker at WSDC, University of Ljubljana) and Maja Cimerman (EFL world WSDC champion, University of Ljubljana) were opening opposition, and last but not least Steve Llano (former national champion coach in USA, St. John's University) and Loke Wing Fatt (Singapore, WUDC breaking judge, father of debate in China) as closing opposition. It was a very spirited debate, chaired by Berlin Debating Union's Jens Fischer, and caused a great deal of discussion among he students. The video is coming soon.

Each day has the same schedule. There is an 8:45 AM organizational meeting at breakfast, followed by a series of lectures divided by experience level. After one hour there is a brief break before we meet again for an hour of drills on the subject of the lectures to help turn theoretical materials into behavior and habit. Then a motion is given and everyone has a debate with a long critique. There is a lunch break followed by a digestion break before the afternoon's activities take place. There are two one-hour period for elective classes. During each of these periods between five and seven different topics are offered, and students can choose which they would like to go to. I will send along a list of enacted electives later. After the second elective of the afternoon another motion is announced and with another debate and a long critique before dinner.

The first practice debate motions were:
1-THW pay a salary to stay-at-home parents
2-TH would create separate units for gays in the military.
3-THBT supporting Georgia's NATO bid is more important than maintaining good relations with Russia.
4-THBT the capitalist experiment has failed.
5-THW criminalize Holocaust denial.

Evenings have had a considerable social component. On Monday night the Country Exhibition took place where students brought items, foods, beverages and other things from their country on display and shared them with everyone. This was a robust affair of international fraternity and lasted well into the night. On Tuesday evening the traditional Slovenian "Kitsch Party" took place. Students swapped clothing and dressed outrageously for the party. It raged for quite a while before the judging took place. Sam(antha) Ricker of the University of Vermont was the winner, looking quite good in ponytails and wearing Helena Felc's pajamas. Second place was Don(na) Bracciodieta of St. John's, who had nice cleavage. Pictures will be coming along soon.

Having been at all six International Debate Academy sessions, I would say that the experience level and excellence of the teams is growing immensely here and all over Europe and the world.

Stay tuned for more from Ormoz.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

WDI Student Ten Years Later

From Kate Aishton:


I'm sure you don't remember me, but I attended WDI's high school program in the summers of 1997 and 1999. After bouncing around the country for a while, I'm a 1L at Georgetown in D.C. Honestly, before this week I hadn't thought about high school debate in a while (beyond occasional light conversations of nerd-solidarity with students).

I was fortunate enough to get a spot in Georgetown's great "alternative curriculum," a program that focuses the first year of law school on critical analysis of the law with an historical and theoretical bent. My fellow students are all incredibly bright and motivated, and, but for one or two out of 80, far-left-leaning. Campaigning and poll-monitoring with them over the last months has renewed my faith in my generation, and I'm proud to know them.

However, our central legal theory class makes WDI's impact on my life ring clear. I keep hearing my friends, smart and arriving from a wide array of backgrounds, struggle as we move away from familiar Classical Liberalism and comforting Realism and into Critical Legal Studies. It took a couple weeks of working through this theory and its various feminist and race-focused strains to remember why I felt so comfortable: sitting on the floor outside the auditorium at UVM, struggling to cut cards and hash out the details of a Critical Pedegogy plan with the other students in my lab.

I asked around, and this isn't average, even for debaters. There are many of us at my school, and I'm the only one I've met who worked on issues of this depth rather than combing the economist for crime figures. The exposure has given me comfort with discussing race and gender, rights and needs, that allows me to hold a substantiative discussion with our professor while the rest of the class struggles to outline basic principles for the final. In other words, it's made my education a pleasure rather than a chore.

So thank you (and in turn, all the lab leaders and teachers whose names I've forgotten). I hope the students you had this summer will write you more versions of this letter in another ten years.


Two-Time WDI Scholar Places Third at Harvard

Brian Rubaie (left) and Andrew Baker

Brian Rubaie has twice been a policy debate scholar at WDI and is one of the most popular studens ever to fill that role. We document here his perormance at the recent tournament at Harvard University.

Team Battles to Third Place in Harvard Debates

Nov. 6, 2008
UT Dallas debate team members Brian Rubaie and Andrew Baker took third place at Harvard University’s annual Intercollegiate Debate Tournament Monday night in Cambridge, Mass.

The University of Kansas team finished first and Northwestern University’s team finished in second place. UT Dallas tied with the University of California-Berkeley for third place. Eighty teams from across the country competed at the Harvard tournament.

“This is undoubtedly the best that any UT Dallas debate team has ever done at a major national tournament,” said Chris Burk, director of the University’s debate team. “The success at the Harvard tournament places the UT Dallas debate team among the top teams in the country.”

The Harvard tournament is one of a hand full of “major” tournament-style debates during the regular debate season. The three-day tournament consisted of eight preliminary rounds on Saturday and Sunday, with the top 16 teams advancing to an elimination bracket on Monday.

Rubaie, a junior criminology major, and Baker, a sophomore political science major and Collegium V honors student, defeated the top partnership from reigning national champions Towson University in the quarterfinals. UT Dallas was the only Texas university to have teams reach the top 16.

“This is a huge step forward for Rubaie and Baker, and our entire debate program,” said Burk. “We competed well against the most prestigious and historically successful programs in the country.”

Burk and Scott Herndon, associate director of debate, coached Rubaie and Baker at the Harvard tournament.

The UT Dallas debate program began as a student-driven team about 12 years ago. Debate duo Rubaie and Baker and other members of the UT Dallas squad will compete at the Wake Forest University tournament Nov. 15-17 to conclude the fall tournament schedule. UT Dallas will host its own intercollegiate debate tournament Jan. 10-12.

Friday, October 31, 2008

WDI Session in Europe Now Full

The World Debate Institute affiliated program the International debate Academy Slovenia is now full. We have every room in the Hotel Ormoz full and even some additional spaces. Thanks to everyone who has shown such great support for the program. We are at our limit for the instructional part of the program. We are proud that so many have recognized us as the premier Worlds format training program on the globe.

But there is still an opportunity for you to join us and be part of what we are doing. There are lots of spots open for the tournament component of the program. The tournament will be a full service event hosted at the Faculty of Law in Maribor, Slovenia. The program will begin afternoon of 28 and continue until 30 November 2008. Join us for a vigorous and economical tournament. We will offer housing, meals and complete tournament entry fees for 50 Euros per person.

We offer great judging, featuring our remarkable faculty, including:
  • Loke Wing Fatt, Singapore: Well known Asian debate trainer, WUDC breaking judge, honorary professorship North-Eastern University China, SAID Singapore, 4th IDAS.
  • Jens Fischer, Germany: Berlin Debating Union, Chief Adjudicator at Europeans, 3rd IDAS.
  • Sam Greenland, UK/Hong Kong/Australia: WUDC semifinalist for Sydney, Hong Kong world schools coach, 3rd IDAS.
  • Steve Llano, USA: Professor at St. John’s University NY, NE USA Director of the Year, USA National Champion coach, 3rd IDAS.
  • Branka Marusic, Croatia: President Europeans Council, IDAS Finalist, 2nd IDAS.
  • Rhydian Morgan, UK: Chief Adjudicator and Finals judge at numerous tournaments, Welsh Debating Federation, World Debate Institute faculty 2008, 2nd IDAS.
  • Debbie Newman, UK: Past president of Cambridge Union, England & Wales National Champion, former Director of Centre for Speech & Debate at English-Speaking Union, England World Schools coach and WSDC world champion coach.
  • Alfred Snider, USA: Professor at University of Vermont, Director World Debate Institute, USA USA Coach of the Year, six recent debate textbooks, 6th IDAS.
  • Bojana Skrt, Slovenia: Director ZIP, thrice WSDC EFL Champion coach, 6th IDAS.

Book your spot at the tournament now. There are cheap flights to Graz, Austria via Ryanair and other options, with an easy train connection to Maribor.

For more information contact Bojana Skrt at Bojana can help you with travel arrangements.

The form to apply for the tournament is at

The general website is at

See you in Maribor at the tournament!

Monday, October 20, 2008

WDI Announces 2009 Dates

2008 t-shirt back

Here are the dates for the 2009 World Debate Institute programs at the University of Vermont.

High School
  • World Schools Debate Workshop July 25 - Aug 7
  • National College Policy July 25 - Aug 7
  • College Parliamentary Debate Workshop May 18 - 22
  • College Parliamentary Debate Workshop Aug 1 - Aug 7

Teachers, Coaches
  • Debate Coaching Workshop July 25 - 31
  • Parliamentary Debate Workshop Aug 1 - Aug 7

World Debate Institute Kicks Off First Debate Tournament in Venezuela

Participants in one of the semifinal debates

Hello from Venezuela. I am Alfred Snider, director of the World Debate Institute.

I am in Caracas, which is supposed to be the city of eternal spring, since it is near the equator but in the mountains so it always has that spring-like flair.

It is lovely city, nestled between mountains that separate it from the Carbbean sea. The "Avila," or lovely moutain range, separates it from the ocean. It is nice, but the traffic is unbelievable and hostile. There are obviously too many cars, and it has the worst traffic I have seen in the known world. The people are friendly and the climate is friendly as well.

I am here for the first ever Venezuelan university debate tournament. I had a great lecture opportunity on Thursday afternoon at a local univeristy and about 90 people showed up to hear me talk about debate as a teaching tool in non-debate classrooms (literature, history, political science, etc.). They were attentive and seemed to like me, asking lots of questions and staying involved. Local organizers said it was a big success.

Friday the tournament started. They have had a lot of debate workshops here but never a tournament. Students seemed excied and ready. I judged four rounds today and have the following observations:

* Students seemed more ready that most beginners, because many of them have had model UN experience and have been to workshops held by the local organizers and staffed by excellent Spanish-speaking trainers from the USA, includling Luis Magallon, Brenda Montes, Kenda Cunningham and Sandra Maroschka. .
* I was pleased with their knowledge of the topic area, which is expanding representation on the UN security council. While not omniscient, they knew quite a lot.
* They had a very good idea of what the important issues were in the debates, going right to them and spending time there.
* They seemed really into it and are highly motivated.

The tournament completed successfully on Sunday with a rousing final round won by USB MN on a 5-4 decision, with some of Venezuela's top citizens judging.

Congratulations to Rita Moncada, organizer trained at WDI, and everyone who participated. WDI will be there to support you in all of your future efforts!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

WDI Faculty WIn Two World Championships

Bojana Skrt (left), Debbie Newman (middle) along with WSDC 08 Convener Phyllis Hirth pose at WDI 2008

Two WDI faculty members have just experienced huge success at the recent World Schools Debating Championship held in Washington, DC.

World Universities Debating Workshop instructor Debbie Newman of the UK led her England team to the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, defeating New Zealand 5-4 in the finals.

World Schools Debating Workshop and World Universities Debating Workshop instructor Bojana Skrt of Slovenia led her Slovene team to the English as a Foreign Language WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP.

Congratulations to them both, and we look forward to having them back at World Debate Institute 2009 next summer.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

WDI Success - Many People Make It Happen

Alison Maynard, Susie McPheeters, Ellen Morris, Janet Nunziata, Corin Blanchard and Nichole Hathaway pose after WDI debrief

It takes a crew to make a successful four-week event. Fortunately, at the University of Vermont the World Debate Institute has a dedicated and highly competent group of people who have worked very hard all year to make the event run so smoothly.

Whether it is lost library cards, locked rooms, premature expiration of computer access codes, parking issues or lost luggage, this crew has done a great job.

The group met this week for a WDI 2008 debrief and there was a long list of successes, challenges and plans for next summer. I want to personally thank everyone for their dedication and concern.

Policy Debate Final Round Now Online

The final round was won on a 3-0 decision:

[AFF] Zac Hartkopp (JCCC) & Derek Ziegler (Kansas State) defeat [NEG] Ben Dabiri(Oklahoma) & Jen Cox (Oklahoma).

Resolved: that the United States Federal Government should substantially reduce its agricultural support, at least eliminating nearly all of the domestic subsidies, for biofuels, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, corn, cotton, dairy, fisheries, rice, soybeans, sugar and/or wheat.

Part One

Part Two

Thursday, August 7, 2008

College Policy Tournament Results

Faculty members Ruth Zisman and David Register
David Register reports:

The 2008 National College Policy Debate Workshop is over! The weather was
great and the evidence set is outstanding. Our Scholars did an amazing job.
Thank you to Brian Rubaie, Lauren Sabino, Dylan Quigley, and Nick Watts for
all of their hard work in making this year such a success.

In our camp tournament, the final round was won on a 3-0 decision:

[AFF] Zac Hartkopp (JCCC) & Derek Ziegler (K State) defeat [NEG] Ben Dabiri
(OU) & Jen Cox (OU)

Speaker awards (2 and 3 tied):

1. Ashley Fortner (Richmond)

2. Jen Cox (Oklahoma)

3. Derek Ziegler (K State)

4. Ben Dabiri (Oklahoma)

See the indexes for the complete list of files produced:

Thank you to everyone who came, especially those novices from
Louisiana-Lafayette and Monmouth whose work ethics and brains should give
those programs a lot of hope for the future.

David Register
Lecturer/Debate Coach
Lawrence Debate Union
Department of Theatre
College of Arts & Sciences
University of Vermont

Debate - Policy - WDI Scholars Debate on Farm Subsidies

Left to right: Nick Watts, Lauren Sabino, Brian Rubiae, Dylan Quigley

Featuring Lauren Sabino of Wake Forest and Brian Rubiae of Texas-Dallas on the affirmative, against Dylan Quigley of Kansas and Nick Watts of Oklahoma on the negative. The debate was about ending agricultural subsidies to CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations). Part 3 contains comments from Kansas State's Justin Green. Negative win.

CAUTION: Policy debate takes place at very high speeds and can be very technical, and for those reasons may be the most rigorous form of debate there is.

See the video at

College Policy Debate Workshop Ends

Policy "hat" winners: Ashley Fortner of Richmond, Jennifer Cox of Oklahoma, Chris Latucca of Vermont, Alease Scott of Louisiana and Brian Rubaie of Texas-Dallas

The last of the five WDI programs this summer ended on Wednesday as the College Policy Workshop came to a close.

The day featured the last preliminary round of the tournament, an exhibition debate by the scholars, the final round of the tournament, and an awards ceremony where the inevitable "hats" were given out.

More details coming in a day or so after we all recover a bit, but I would have to say that it was a huge success. The atmosphere was excellent, the debaters improved tremendously, the evidence set produced was truly excellent and a good time seemed to have been had by all, and the evaluations showed that.

Plans for the future were boiling as the faculty had their dinner of some tasty Thai food. Watch this space for more about 2009 to come.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Watch Final Round of World Universities Workshop

The four teams were: 1st government Emily Barkdoll & Ethan Backus of Vermont, 2nd government Joshua Miller & Mandy Frank of Vermont, 1st opposition Lee Richmond & Garret Valdez of Tennessee Tech, 2nd opposition Darius Niknamfard & Scott Crespo of Cornell.

After totalling the ranks, it was Joshua Miller & Mandy Frank of Vermont with 53 points, and the next closest was Lee Richmond & Garrett Valdez of Tennessee Tech with 25.

The motion was: This House would put security cameras in the public places of city centers.

New Evidence Indexes from College Policy Debate

Now available at

Some pretty cool stuff here! Congratulations to all for hard work and creativity.

The picture above shows our printing room in the women's dressing room at the Royall Tyler Theatre at the University of Vermont. It is a sweet space.

See What Policy Debate Has Been Up To

Policy debate is very research-centered and the focus is on the one debate topic that will be debated all year.

Resolved: that the United States Federal Government should substantially reduce its agricultural support, at least eliminating nearly all of the domestic subsidies, for biofuels, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, corn, cotton, dairy, fisheries, rice, soybeans, sugar and/or wheat.

The first set of evidence is now finished and out.

You may download and inspect the indexes to the arguments from the WDI first wave evidence set.

This is for information purposes only. We do not sell or vend the WDI evidence set because it belongs to those who produced it.

We will have another batch in a day or so.

Things are going well and the work is intense. Congrats to all.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

World Debate Institute WUDC Session Concludes

From left to right, Champions Mandy Frank & Joshua Miller; special awards Julie Mirse, Morgan Sayre, Kenneth Barnes and Michael Vigeant

The super-intensive five-day WUDC training workshop held at the World Debate Institute at the University of Vermont concluded on Friday. After eight rounds of debate during the week the scores were totaled and the top four teams were invited to a grand final round, and twenty attendees agreed to judge.

The four teams were: 1st government Emily Barkdoll & Ethan Backus of Vermont, 2nd government Joshua Miller & Mandy Frank of Vermont, 1st opposition Lee Richmond & Garret Valdez of Tennessee Tech, 2nd opposition Darius Niknamfard & Scott Crespo of Cornell. After totalling the ranks, it was Joshua Miller & Mandy Frank of Vermont with 53 points, and the next closest was Lee Richmond & Garrett Valdez of Tennessee Tech with 25.

The motion was: This House would put security cameras in the public places of city centers.

Four other awards were handed out, the traditional "hats." After 25 years WDI continues its tradition of awarding a University of Vermont cap to those students who combine enthusiasm, a willingness to help others and improvement during the sessions as voted on by the faculty. The winners were:
Morgan Sayre of Vermont
Kenneth Barnes of Tennessee Tech
Michael Vigeant of Tennessee Tech
Julie Mirse of Tennessee Tech
Congratulations to the Tech students for an outstanding showing.

See the video of the final round at

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Parliamentary Debate Workshop Underway

Faculty pose: Bojana Skrt from Slovenia, Nicole Colston from Vermont, Steve Llano from St John's in NY and Debbie Newman from the UK (coach of England World Schools team). Alfred Snider from Vermont not shown.

The World Debate Institute's 2008 College Parliamentary Workshop is well underway. The intensive five day program is training students in the basics of parliamentary debating by using the WUDC or "worlds" format.

Each day features a mix of lectures, drills, elective classes (several different subjects offered at once) and two debates.

Steve Llano said of day 1:

The first day wasn't just housekeeping matters and such - we managed to get right into the material and had a very nice practice debate on the motion "This House would ban consumption of tobacco products." The round I saw was quite good even though it featured one team that was new to the format, and another that was totally new to debate.
For those of you interested, today's schedule is:


9-11:30 AM
9:00-9:45 AM Lecture: Proposition-Skrt
9:45-11:30 AM Coaches: Session 4
9:45-10:00 AM Prep for debate
10:00-11:30 AM Debate 4 with Critique

11:30-1:30 PM Lunch

1:30-4:30 PM
1:30-2:30 PM Elective 1
2:30-3:00 PM Prep for debate
3:00-4:30 PM Debate 4 with Critique

4:30 PM End of Day

Saturday, July 26, 2008

South Asian Students at World Debate Institute Do Television

Islamophobia program

The US Department of State, the Study United States Institute and the World Debate Institute at the University of Vermont have been working with 18 students from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan on debating skills and public communication this last week.

On Thursday afternoon the students composed, practiced, arranged and taped three television discussion programs for broadcast in Vermont and to offer online. The topics of the discussions were:
  • Islamophobia
  • Global Food Crisis
  • World War Three Happening Now

All three can be seen starting later today at

The first of the three programs is linked above.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Future South Asian Leaders Get WDI Debate Training

Eighteen students from South Asia (Pakistan, India and Bangladesh) are attending a one-week session at the World Debate Institute at the University of Vermont as part of a US Department of State month-long program centering an the Study of US Institutions (SUSI for short).

The debate session involves public speaking training, argumentation and refutation drills, debating in the WUDC format and is then finished as students tape three television programs of discussions they have researched and implemented on selected topics. The taping will be Thursday, and the topics are: Islamophobia, 21st Century as a New Age of Conflict and the Crisis of Rising Food Prices.

The program is taught by Alfred Snider of Vermont and Rhydian Morgan of the UK. "These students are immensely talented," said Snider, "and I think it is a great idea to also help them sharpen their oral communication and critical thinking skills."

In other parts of the program students learned about US political institutions, worked with community groups to develop an appreciation for service learning, engaged in sporting events designed for the disabled, attended fireworks and a small-town 4th of July parade and will be visiting Boston and Washington DC.

For more WDI news go to

World Schools Session Concludes

Top four speakers: Becker, Lee, Hayes and Fuentes

The World Schools Debate workshop at the World Debate Institute at the University of Vermont came to a close on Monday and students departed on Tuesday. The session ended with a tournament, a final round, speaker awards and certificates presented to the attendees. The final night involved dinner downtown and a supervised taste of Burlington night life.

Students and faculty from six nations (Korea, Slovakia, Mexico, UK, Slovenia & USA) made the two week session intense from a debating perspective but also gave people an opportunity to make international contacts and learn from each other.

The final round was won by the team called "Slomerica" consisting of Jacob Klein, Sebastian Becker and Katarina Krasulova, although Katarina had to catch her plane for Europe and missed the final round itself. They triumphed in a 3-2 decision over the team called "Electric Pleasure Trio" consisting of In Hyok Lee, Andrew Hayes and Willis Danielson.

The top four speakers, pictured above, were:
  1. Andrew Hayes, USA
  2. In Hyok Lee, Korea
  3. Aurea Fuentes, Mexico
  4. Sebastian Becker, USA

The workshop was directed by Bojana Skrt of Slovenia, with the assistance of Rhydian Morgan of the UK. Other faculty involved were Jackie Massey of Oklahoma, Alfred Snider of Vermont and Mandy Frank of Vermont.

Monday, July 21, 2008

WDI 2008 Shirt is Unveiled

The WDI shirt has become fairly famous in the last 26 years. Ever since our very first one, with a huge red star ringed by "People's Republic of Burlington" we have produced a lot of collector's items.

Other shirts have included, "Brain Farm - we grow em big," "Turning Weapons Into Words," "Emancipate Yourself from Mental Slavery," "Logic & Love," to "Critical Thinking Creates a Better World." A few years ago the CEDA college national debate championship was won by two WDI graduates, and one wearing his WDI shirt.

This year we seem to have another winner. On the front it has a repeat of the "critical thinking" slogan, but the back has a comment balloon with "Where the future is born." We like to think about the amazing young people we are training and how they will make a difference in the future, hopefully for the good. Always optimistic is how we feel at WDI.

We also used navy blue as the color because we have not had a navy shirt ever, and we want to keep mixing it up.

They are not available for sale. You need to be here to get one.

Join us next year and get your own.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

WDI Instructor Heads for Serbia, But Will Return

Steve Llano, right, with Sam Nelson of Cornell and Bojana Skrt of Slovenia

Steve Llano of St. John's University directed the Coach/Teacher workshop at WDI this year. He is now on his way to Serbia to do a debate workshop there before returning to WDI to teach at the College Parliamentary workshop. He leaves with fond memories of his stint at WDI so far.

Here are some passages from his own blog, found at

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Notes from the WDI

There are a few things I expect to do every summer that I come to the University of Vermont to teach at the World Debate Institute.

One is that I'll eat Ben & Jerry's. Another is drinks at Red Square. A trip to the KKD is in order as well as Ali Baba's, the Red Onion Deli, and possibly a new place to eat as the turnover is pretty darn high around here.

Other things - I know I'll have to walk up that damn hill too many times. And I know I'll be tired, and I know that I'll meet a lot of people who will point out to me in a lot of ways how much learning I have left to do.

No disappointment this year. Even as an instructor I found the courses to make me think in new ways about teaching debate. Everything old is new again. This is exactly why I choose to teach at WDI in the summers when I could easily just stay home and relax. Already looking forward to next year.

In a couple of hours I'm off to Belgrade for more teaching and learning debate. This is a new workshop for me so I'm very interested to see how it goes. Then after that I will return to Vermont for WDI's World Style Debate institute. With over 30 students registered, it should be a really good workshop.

More from Belgrade tomorrow as I settle in and get a lay of the argumentative land.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Coach/Teacher Workshop Draws to a Close

Steve Llano of St. John's University and Rhydian Morgan judge a debate

The five-day Coach/Teacher Workshop is drawing to a close here at the World Debate Institute. It has been an action packed week for them, and they have gotten even more than they bargained for. On Thursday, for example, each coach was presented with a huge pile of DVDs and CDs of instructional materials in every single debate format of interest. They have been introduced to Lincoln Douglas, policy, parliamentary and public forum debate. They are full of questions and anxious to learn.

Steve Llano of St. John's University has been directing the classes, but has had help from Jackie Massey, Rhydian Morgan, Alfred Snider and others. Steve is perfect for this position because he has been both a high school and a college coach and has experience in all of these formats, as well as having a doctoral degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

About the class, Steve said, "It was engaging, enlightening and practical. The teachers discussed everything from the basics of modern argumentation theory to the pragmatics of how to have the first meeting to start their debate teams off. Any teacher interested in improving the quality of critical thought at his or her school would have no trouble finding all the tools to do so in this workshop."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Public Forum Debate Workshop Reaches "Hump Day"

Jackie Massey helps a student

It is Wednesday and the five-day Public Forum Debate workshop reaches its mid-point. The program is directed by Jackie Massey and Steve Llano as well as Rhydian Morgan have been helping him.

Jackie Massey, University of Oklahoma
Has qualified teams to elimination rounds at CEDA Nationals and the NDT at every school he has coached at. Has brought Oklahoma from a brand new program to one of the most competitive in just four years. His team was CEDA National Champion in 2007. Specialties include breaking down resolutions to reveal underlying grounds for argument, creation of new frameworks for debate decision-making, getting conservative judges to vote for radical strategies, making debate relevant to a multicultural world and gaining advantages over top teams through innovation.

They have been debating a lot as well as preparing arguments. Tonight, however, they go down to Church Street to visit Ben & Jerry's I stroll among the shops. Then, back to work tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Continuing Education Helps Three WDI Programs Roll Smoothly

While the academic portion of the World Debate Institute is organized by professional academics from the University of Vermont and many other schools, the program itself is administered by the Division of Continuing Education at the university. They arrange housing, food, classrooms, copying, library privileges and many other things. They train and employ Resident Assistants who live with the underage students in the dorms. They have a lot to do with why three programs now in session are rolling smoothly.

There are regular meetings of a working group, and the one pictured above happened this morning. The above picture shows many who are involved in the program. A big thanks to one person not in the photo, Janet Nunziata.

The meeting talked about smoothing the departure of current groups and arrival of the next groups, and also spoke glowingly about the current group of students.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Lecture on Debating Nuclear Energy

Lecture delivered by Alfred Snider at the World Schools Debating workshop at the World Debate Institute. The lecture explores the background and the competing arguments about nuclear power as a source for electricity.

Busy Sunday - Lectures, Debates, Arrivals

While Sunday morning was free at the World Debate Institute, the rest of the day was packed with activity. There were two lectures (one on argumentation and the other on nuclear energy, the next topic) and a full critiqued debate on the topic of banning makeup in middle schools.

There were also arrivals for the Public Forum Debate workshop as well as for the Coach/teacher workshop. Faculty Jackie Massey from Oklahoma and Steve Llano from St. John's arrived.

Here is a video of the argumentation lecture by Rhydian Morgan, always a fascinating speaker.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Practice Debate and Beach Day

North Beach (without people)

Students at the World Schools Workshop had a full day today. A practice debate was held in the morning (on military intervention being justified to delver emergency humanitarian aid) followed by lunch.

After lunch people were bused down to Burlington's North Beach (see photo) for some fun in sand, sun and water. Tonight they will attend "Classic Westerns" held outside at the Pine Grove at UVM. Grounds open for music at 7, movie at 9. Bring lawn chairs and blankets. Music from Catie Curtis, followed by the classic western film Yellow Sky.

Sunday work starts again at 1 PM.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Lecture - Introduction to Debate Research

A lecture at the 2008 World Debate Institute, World Schools Debate Workshop. Alfred Snider of the University of Vermont is the speaker.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

World Schools Workshop Begins

Students from four nations (USA, Slovakia, Mexico and Korea) gathered this morning for the beginning of the two-week World Schools Debate Workshop. Using the WSDC format the students will be working through a two week very difficult schedule.

The faculty, pictured above, are Bojana Skrt of Slovenia and Rhydian Morgan of the UK.

Bojana Skrt, Z.I.P., Slovenia
Bojana Skrt is the Director of the national debate program of Slovenia and has been involved in international debating for many years, and is a member of the World Schools Council. Her team has twice won the WSDC world title for debating in English as a foreign language. She has directed debate training workshops on three continents. She has organized and hosted countless debating tournaments and has trained generations of debate teachers and coaches. She is in her fifth year at the World Debate Institute.

Rhydian Morgan has already been introduced. Also helping will be Steve Llano and Jackie Massey.

Steve Llano, St. John’s University, NY
Now Director of Debate at St. John’s University in New York City. Named the 2007-08 Debate Director of the Year in the Northeast USA. Has coached at a number of prestigious programs, including winning national championships. Extensive experience with university students as well as with international students. Now focuses on WUDC parliamentary debate style. Also an award-winning judge and critic. Has long been a top rated faculty member at the World Debate Institute. Expertise in applying classical rhetorical theory and philosophy to debate situations as well as applying multicultural perspectives.

Jackie Massey, University of Oklahoma
Has qualified teams to elimination rounds at CEDA Nationals and the NDT at every school he has coached at. Has brought Oklahoma from a brand new program to one of the most competitive in just four years. His team was CEDA National Champion in 2007. Specialties include breaking down resolutions to reveal underlying grounds for argument, creation of new frameworks for debate decision-making, getting conservative judges to vote for radical strategies, making debate relevant to a multicultural world and gaining advantages over top teams through innovation.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

New Faculty - Newman & Morgan

Two new faculty members will be joining us at the World Debate Institute this summer.

Debbie Newman will be teaching at the College Parli (WUDC) workshop.
Debbie Newman has been a debater since high school where she reached the final of the world schools debating championships for England. At university she went on to become the President of the Cambridge Union and was the England & Wales National Debating Champion. After graduation, Debbie went to work for the English-Speaking Union where she eventually became the Head of the Centre for Speech and Debate. She is a qualifed teacher and education consultant and is the current coach of the England Schools Debate Team. She has taught and judged debate around the globe and this is her third time at the World Debate Institute.

Rhydian Morgan will be teaching at the High School World Schools workshop. He will also be teaching at the SUSI Workshop for students from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India sponsored by the US State Department.
A student of and graduate in a number of disciplines ranging from Modern Languages and Philosophy to Law, Rhydian has been involved with competitive debating for several years as a speaker, judge and coach. He enjoyed some success both domestically and internationally whilst a student as a speaker, and has since judged at the highest level across Europe, as CA or Grand Final Judge of many prestigious tournaments. As a coach, he runs a successful business, teaching critical and lateral thinking skills, and principles of debate, in schools and universities all over Europe, and he is able to draw on his professional training as both an actor and a lawyer to bring a new dimension to his instruction of public speaking and presentation skills. He is currently devoting much of his time to supporting the Welsh Debating Federation and the domestic schools debating set-up, and lobbying to have Critical Thinking included as a core part of the national curriculum.

World Schools Schedule Announced

Rhydian Morgan judges a debate at the International Debate Academy in Europe

Bojana Skrt, director of the world schools debate workshop at WDI this summer, has released the following preliminary schedule. Bojana will be joined by Rhydian Morgan from the UK and Alfred Snider from the USA.

July, 9th – 22nd 2008

Arrival: Wed, 9/07

Day 1: Thursday, 10/07
9.00 – 10.00 Openning ceremony, briefing
10.00 – 11.30 Introduction to debating
- 30 minutes lecture, Bojana, mainly basics about speech organisation and basics of debating;
- 60 minutes, exercises - them giving short speeches, easy motions, 2 minutes speeches,
listening, critiquing, Bojana&Rhydian
11.30 – 1.30 Lunch
1.30- 3.30 Library tour, librarians doing it, Rhydian
4.00 – 5.00 Research, lecture Tuna
5.00 – 7.00 Dinner
7.00 – 9.00 Library work, Rhydian

Day 2: Friday, 11/07
9.00 – 10.00 Public speaking, lecture, Tuna
10.00 – 11.30 Exercises, public speaking, Rhydian
11.30 – 1.30 Lunch
1.30 – 2.30 Introduction to Worlds School Debate Format, lecture, Bojana
2.30 – 3.30 Debate prep
3.30 -5.00 Debate and critique
5.00 – 7.00 Dinner
7.00 – 9.00 Library work, Bojana

Day 3: Saturday, 12/07
9.00 – 10.00 Debate prep
10.00 – 11.30 Debate and critique
11.30 – 1.00 Lunch
Beach time
5.00 - Dinner and free evening

Day 4, Sunday, 13/07
Morning free
1.00 - 2.30 Argumentation 1, Lecture and drills, Rhydian
2.30 – 3.30 Debate prep
3.30 - 5.00 Debate and critique
5.00 – 7.00 Dinner
7.00 – 9.00 Lecture about nuclear weapons, Tuna

Day 5, Monday, 14/07
9.00 – 11.30 Argumentation 2, Lecture and drills, Tuna and Rhydian
11.30 – 1.30 Lunch
1.30 – 2.30 Role of the speakers, Lecture, Bojana
2.30 – 3.30 Debate prep
3.30 – 5.00 Debate and critique »Nuclear weapon motion«
5.00 – 7.00 Dinner
Free evening

Day 6, Tuesday, 15/07
9.00 – 11.30 Points of informations, Lecture and drills, Rhydian
11.30 – 1.30 Lunch
1.30 – 2.30 Preparation time, Lecture, Bojana
2.30 – 3.30 Debate prep
3.30 – 5.00 Debate and critique »Impro motion«
5.00 – 7.00 Dinner
7.00 – 9.00 Native Americans, lecture Jackie Massey

Day 7, Wednesday, 16/07
9.00 – 11.30 Motion analyses, Lecture and drills, Bojana
11.30 – 1.30 Lunch
1.30 – 2.30 Reply speeches 1, Lecture, Tuna
2.30 – 3.30 Debate prep
3.30 – 5.00 Debate and critique »Native Americans«
5.00 – 7.00 Dinner
7.00 – 10.00 Free evening in Church street

Day 8, Thursday, 17/07
9.00 – 11.30 Refutation 1, Lecture and drills, Tuna
11.30 – 1.30 Lunch
1.30 – 2.30 Style, Rhydian
2.30 – 3.30 Debate prep
3.30 – 5.00 Debate and critique
5.00 – 7.00 Dinner
7.00 – 9.00 Content lecture for one of the specific motions, please, suggest: Rhydian

Day 9, Friday, 18/07
9.00 – 11.30 Refutation 2, Lecture and drills, Rhydian
11.30 – 1.30 Lunch
1.30 – 2.30 Judge adaptation, lecture, Tuna
2.30 – 3.30 Debate prep
3.30 – 5.00 Debate and critique
5.00 – 7.00 Dinner
7.00 – 9.00 Library work

Day 10, Saturday, 19/07
9.00 – 11.30 Reply speeches 2, Lecture and drills, Rhydian
11.30 – 1.30 Lunch
1.30 – 2.30 Open forum, Bojana
2.30 – 3.30 Debate prep
3.30 – 5.00 Debate and critique
5.00 – 7.00 Dinner
Free evening

Day 11, Sunday, 20/07
Free morning
Mini tournament
Round one:
1.30 – 4.00 Round 1
4.00 – 6.00 Dinner
6.00 – 8.00 Round 2

Day 12, Monday, 21/07
9.00 - 11.30 Round 3
11.30 – 1.30 Lunch
1.30 – 4.00 Round 4
5.00 Dinner

Departure, Tuesday, 22/07

Saturday, June 14, 2008

WDI to Host Webcast from NFL Nationals

The National Forensic League in the USA (, Debate Central (, Global Debate and the World Debate Institute at the University of Vermont have announced that on Friday March 20 2008 the entire day's events will be available as web video on the Internet.

"This is an exciting way for parents, supporters at home and the entire world to see the excellence of our students," said Scott Wunn, NFL Executive Director. "We want to thank Dr. Snider for his support on this project."

"We are proud to have this opportunity," said Alfred Snider, "and it is a pleasure to bring our technical expertise to this event. NFL partnerships like this have been going on now for almost ten years and we are very proud of the trust they put in us in these matters."





8:30 AM

10 AM

11:30 AM

1:30 PM

2:30 PM

3:30 PM

5:30 PM

Standard time zone: UTC/GMT -8 hours
Daylight saving time: +1 hour
Current time zone offset: UTC/GMT -7 hours
Time zone abbreviation: PDT - Pacific Daylight Time


About the NFL

The National Forensic League is the nation's oldest and largest debate and speech honor society. Since our founding in 1925, we have enrolled over 1 million members in all 50 states.

The National Forensic League believes that all students should be empowered to become effective communicators, ethical individuals, critical thinkers, and leaders in a democratic society. We exist to promote secondary school speech and debate activities and interscholastic competition as a means to develop a student's lifelong skills and values and to increase the public's awareness of the value of speech, debate, and communication education.

The NFL Mission

The National Forensic League Honor Society promotes secondary school speech and debate activities and interscholastic competition as a means to develop a student’s lifelong skills and values, as well as the public’s awareness of the value of speech, debate, and communication education.

As an organization, the National Forensic League embraces diversity, interconnection, and visionary leadership. We empower students to become effective communicators, ethical individuals, critical thinkers, and leaders in a democratic society.

The NFL Vision

The organization serves as the central agent for coordination and facilitation of

  • heightened public awareness of the value of speech communication skills,
  • development of educational initiatives for student and teacher training,
  • excellence in interscholastic competition, and
  • the promotion of honor society ideals.

Friday, June 13, 2008

World Debate Institute to Host Future Leaders from South Asia

Pakistan students on television during 2007 WDI program

The World Debate Institute at the University of Vermont will be the host to key future leaders from South Asia during a June-July program in Burlington, Vermont sponsored by the USA Department of State.

The program has selected future leaders from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan for a one month course in the USA to develop key skills and deepen understanding of international relations. One week of their stay will involve intensive training in the 2008 World Debate Institute that will be handled by WDI director Alfred Snider along with instructor Rhydian Morgan of the UK. The sessions will involve public speaking skills, argumentation and framing of public policy issues for presentation and discussion in public forums. The week-long program will culminate in the taping of three television programs that will be broadcast in New England and beyond.

The 2008 program follows a successful 2007 program for students from Pakistan.

For further information contact or

Watch for more news to come.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

WDI Holds Workshop in Malaysia

Originally filed on 16 December 2007.

I am here in Malaysia and the World Universities Peace Invitational Debates are in full swing.

I arrived Friday and spent most of the day recovering from a 30 plus hour trip from the USA.

On Saturday morning I was joined by Malaysian trainer Iqbal Hafiedz and we went over to Bangi area (where there are many, many training centers) to the CIMB Bnk training center (CIMB is the host and sponsor for this entire event) and we did a training session for about fifty high school students.

We did five different sessions before breaking in the afternoon. Including:
  • "Why debate?" session by me.
  • "Macro view of a debate" by Hafiedz.
  • Coffee, tea and snack break (wow, and what great snacks).
  • "Speaker roles on World Schools format" session by me.
  • "Structure and strategy for argument" session by Hafiedz.
  • Small group sessions on analyzing motions and building arguments, by both of us, where the students were very spirited and involved.

A wonderful late lunch followed, and then we had a sad farewell with the students and it was back to Kuala Lumpur and the Novotel where people are staying. A good first day and many thanks to CIMB Bank and HNGSC Strategic Communications.