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