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:

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.