Saturday, November 24, 2007

Academy Concludes and Moves on to Ljubljana for the Tournament

In the small town of Ormoz, Slovenia, there were a lot of different languages being spoken as people from seventeen different nations gathered to focus on Worlds/BP format debating for six days, from 17-22 November 2007.

The program is sponsored by Z.I.P. (Za in Proti, Institute for Culture of Dialogue, the Slovenian national debate program) and the World Debate Institute (University of Vermont USA) and is now in its fifth year.

People attended who are citizens of: Slovenia, USA, UK, Germany, Singapore, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, Ukraine, Estonia, Russia, Bosnia, Taiwan, Canada, India and Mongolia.

The program had a number of illustrious faculty members, including:

  • Loke Wing Fatt, SAID Singapore and WUDC breaking judge.
  • Jens Fischer, Germany, Chief Adjudicator at Euros.

  • Neill Harvey-Smith, WUDC finalist and Chief Adjudicator for Euros
    2008, now with Debate Chambers, United Kingdom.

  • Steve Llano, USA national champion coach, St. Johns University, USA.

  • Branka Marusic, President of European Universities Debating Council, Croatia.

  • Rhydian Morgan, Chief Adjudicator at numerous UK tournaments, now with GRM Communications, United Kingdom.

  • Sam Nelson, USA national champion coach, Cornell University, USA.

  • Uve Poom, Europeans EFL Champion and Euros 2008 organizer.

  • Bojana Skrt, World Schools EFL Champion coach twice, Slovenia.

  • Alfred Snider, USA national champion coach, Director of World Debate Institute, University of Vermont, USA.

With sixty people occupying the Hotel Ormoz, the days were full of learning activities. Each day included a morning lecture, a drill and exercise session, and then a full critiqued debate. Afternoons consisted of two slates of elective classes (where students can pick from 4-5 different subjects to attend), followed by another full critiqued debate. Evenings were free, but included a number of social events, such as the country exhibition and the kitsch party.

The following are some of the elective topics:

  • Intl relations 1

  • Intl relations 2

  • Economics for idiots

  • Debating about rights


  • Research methods

  • Humor

  • Rebutting

  • Motion analysis


  • Motion interpretation

  • Case division

  • Counter proposals


  • Style vs. substance

  • Identifying clash

  • Newman hierarchy

  • Principles of criminal justice

  • Zen debating - knifing without the knife

  • Derivation of rights


  • Economics with NHS, aka how to win debates on economics against economists, by an economics grad.

  • Politics with NHS, aka how to win debates on political theory against politics students, by a politics postgrad.

  • Philosophy with NHS, aka how to beat utilitarians in debate, by a philosophy postgrad.

  • Law with NHS, aka how to beat lawyers in debates about law, by a man who hates lawyers.

  • Extensions; how to speak brilliantly as the third speaker in British Parliamentary debates.


  • Note-taking before and during the debate

  • Your 15 minutes prep and how to use it

  • Mine is bigger than yours, comparing arguments


  • Samurai debate

  • Classical rhetorical theory

  • Advanced opposition strategy


  • Strategy: How do we debate when we do not have a clue about the topic? What do we do when the first government comes out with a really bad case? ….


  • Tricks are for Kids. The role of the trickster in argumentation and its implications for current debate practice.

  • Public speaking like you mean it! How to be a persuasive speaker

  • Make love not war. Rejecting the warrior narrative in debate and replacing it with a more functional mindset: Debater as lover!

  • Games people play. Debate games that teach you how to hone your debate skills.

    Separate coaching electives were held, including:

  • Experiential learning - Poom

  • Drills and games to teach debate - Fatt

  • Adjudication - Harvey-Smith

  • Training program model - Snider

  • Team based research strategy - Llano

  • Running university debate club: keep them coming, keep them staying, keep them motivated. Skrt

  • Fundraising for the university debate club. Skrt

  • Organising debate tournament. Skrt

  • Organising public debate. Skrt

One other event of note was the show debate that was staged by the faculty. Steve Llano and Bojana Skrt chaired a debate on the motion; this House would apologize for colonialism. The first government team was Alfred Snider and Rhydian Morgan, the second government team was Jens Fischer and Sam Nelson, the first opposition team was Neill Harvey-Smith and Branka Marusic, and the second opposition team was Loke Wing Fatt and Uve Poom. The debate was a spirited affair, but was fairly serious (unlike many show debates) and tried to provide real examples to the student audience. The video will be posted online very soon. No decision was announced and the students kept talking about their individual decisions late into the night.

With sponsorship grants to debate motions on the issue of equal opportunities, many of the motions shared this these. Motions for the practice debates included:

  • This House would bring George W. Bush to trial for war crimes.

  • This House believes in cultural and racial assimilation.

  • This house would support an independent state for the Kurdish people.

  • This House supports affirmative action to solve for the effects of discrimination.

  • This House would grant immunity to dictators who step down voluntarily.

  • This House believes that there should be no religious holidays recognised as national holidays.

  • This House believes the criminalisation of hate speech is a bad idea.

  • This House believes all public bathrooms should be unisex.

    On Friday morning everyone boarded a bus for Ljubljana where they were housed in a dormitory and a tournament is now going on at the University of Ljubljana’s Faculty of Administration and the Faculty of Economics.

    More on the tournament in a separate post.

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