Friday, October 29, 2010

Lecture - Debate as Agency - Allan Louden - 3rd Better World Conference 2010

Lecture - Debate as Agency - Allan Louden - 3rd Better World Conference 2010 from Alfred Snider on Vimeo.

Debate as agency: Preparing students for civic engagement, Allan Louden, Wake Forest University, USA
Debate is often thought educationally as a method of skill acquisition largely aimed toward future vocational applications. Critical thinking, research ability, public arena presence, social elasticity, among other capacities are said to be uniquely trained using debate.
Most involved in debate would agree with a recent commentary published at that the activity’s characteristics are the “very building blocks of civility . . . The basic elements are the same across formats: Argument, evidence, forced reciprocity and dialogue, equal time, and mandatory listening” (Herbst 2009).
My project evaluates not the acquisition of skill sets for a distanced future but rather the use of debate as the means to accessing other civic enterprises. I draw upon five years of directing the Ben Franklin Transatlantic Fellows Institute, a month long State Department summer program hosted by Wake Forest University. Participants are students selected by US embassies from forty countries and US students.
Debate has been employed to more quickly equip students for entry into a variety of civic endeavors. Over the years we have experimented with using debate to prepare for projects of public deliberation, media access, governance, community service and civic engagement.
The advantage of debate training is it more quickly grounds understanding of application arenas, and does so in a way that enhances individual ownership. Entry into applied civic engagement is based on activity, leading to individual empowerment. The model of debate as precursor to civic activity is to value both to knowing about and more importantly knowing as personal responsibility.

3rd International Conference on Argumentation, Rhetoric, Debate and the Pedagogy of Empowerment, October 2010, Maribor, Slovenia.

Further details can be found at the conference websites:
Basic information at​debateblog/​better/​Welcome.html
News blog at

The conference was organized by the Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, University of Maribor in Slovenia , ZIP, Za in proti, zavod za kulturo dialoga/Pro et contra, institute for culture of dialogue , and the World Debate Institute of the University of Vermont​debateblog/​wdi/​Welcome.html .

The organizers are grateful for the support of our sponsor QatarDebate .

Thanks to organizers Boris Vezjak, Alfred Snider and Bojana Skrt. Special thanks to Peter Mesarec, Monica Sobocan and Aljoša Polšak. 
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