Navigating Opportunity: Policy Debate in the 21st Century: Wake Forest National Debate Conference

Navigating Opportunity: Policy Debate in the 21st Century: Wake Forest National Debate Conference

Navigating Opportunity: Policy Debate in the 21st Century: Wake Forest National Debate Conference

Navigating Opportunity: Policy Debate in the 21st Century: Wake Forest National Debate Conference

Synopsis

Works from the 3rd National Development Conference on Debate.

Excerpt

Allan D. Louden, Conference Director, Wake Forest University

Ideas grow from a mixture of motive and opportunity. For nearly a decade, policy debate professionals have had a sense that the debate community needed to draw a breath, discount busyness and inertia, and take the time to systematically assess the state of policy debate at the outset of the twenty-first century.

A more pressing motive presented itself in the summer of 2008 when an unbecoming YouTube video went viral, making public a post-debate confrontation at the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) national debate tournament. cnn picked up the video, obliging nearly everyone associated with debate to explain to friends, colleagues, and reporters how otherwise committed coaches could trade invective and “physical display” before their students. Even the sympathetic were perplexed.

That an assessment of the role of debate was overdue, prompted by events, resulted in the National Developmental Debate Conference, hosted by Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, June 5–7, 2009.

Debate leaders Timothy O’Donnell (University of Mary Washington), chairperson of the National Debate Tournament (NDT), and Gordon Stables (University of Southern California), president-elect of the ceda, with the reliable encouragement of ndt board of trustees chair, Robin Rowland (University of Kansas), took up the challenge.

At the behest of what became the Conference Steering Committee, I was brought onboard. Over the period of a year, planning for the conference ensued. Themes facing the debate community were developed, resulting in ten areas of inquiry. Six months before the conference, debate leaders with relevant expertise were identified and invited to constitute working groups charged with investigation and development of recommendations. Members of the debate community were independently invited to participate in the conference.

Former Wayne State director, George Ziegelmueller, who chaired the first two developmental conferences, cautioned me in phone conversations that the meeting was not without risk. While a gathering of specialists skilled . . .

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