Campus News

Bluegrass Debate Coalition Offers Free After-school Debate Classes for Children of UK Faculty and Staff

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 7, 2021) — The Bluegrass Debate Coalition (BDC) launched in September 2020 to bring competitive debate to middle schoolers and high schoolers across Kentucky. Overseen by the University of Kentucky's championship intercollegiate debate team and housed in the UK College of Communication and Information, the BDC is a first-of-its-kind project. Combining the expert knowledge and resources of UK’s debate team with the power and accessibility of digital debating has allowed the BDC to breakthrough to Kentucky students, parents and schools. Nearly 50 students from across the state participated in the BDC’s first semester of programming.

Students meet once a week online for 90 minutes to learn the basics of debate and hone their skills in the After School Debate Program — one of the BDC’s signature initiatives. Open to all middle school and high school students in Kentucky, the program provides high-quality debate instruction to interested students in the state. Classes are fun, educational and the skills learned — like public speaking, persuasive writing, argumentation and research — benefit students far beyond debate. 

Students do not need to have any previous debate experience or be members of a school debate team to sign up. The BDC offers a novice course for beginners. Each class features a short lesson, group discussion and fun activities to practice new skills. An intermediate course is also offered for students who have previous experience and are looking to take their skills to the next level. Courses will be led by BDC Director Lily Nellans and UK Debate Coach Genevieve Hackman. 

Classes are completely free for children of UK faculty and staff. All middle school and high school students are eligible to participate. Students meet once a week for 90 minutes in an online classroom with eight to 10 other Kentucky students and an instructor. Each session consists of six weeks of classes. Registration is due by Friday, Jan. 8. Classes begin the week of Jan. 18 and conclude the week of Feb. 22. Learn more about the After School Debate Program and register at the BDC website:

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.