Campus News

Kentucky Debate working to expand internationally

The UK Debate team.
The UK Debate team.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 10, 2023) — Dave Arnett, director of the University of Kentucky Intercollegiate Debate program, visited Hanoi, Vietnam, where he observed Team USA at the World Schools Debating Championship and spoke at the U.S. Embassy. The goal of the trip was to help expand Kentucky Debate’s international collaboration.

The World Schools Debating Championship, held annually, is a global competition for high school debaters. This year’s tournament was hosted by Vin University and 64 different countries were represented.

The format of the tournament is 3-on-3 and utilizes both prepared motions, where students have a month to research the topic and impromptu topics, where students have one hour to prepare before the debate.

“Attending the World Championship was eye opening to the truly global significance competitive debate can have,” Arnett said. “Team USA won the tournament for the first time since 1994, making it that much more special.”

UK Debate’s Tournament of Champions, held annually on UK’s campus, features top high school debaters from across the country and will add the 3-on-3 format in 2024.

While in Vietnam, Arnett presented “Competitive speech and debate in American secondary schools: opportunities for international engagement” at the U.S. Embassy to a group of parents, teachers and students and discussed a potential partnership with the American Center.

“The room was packed with people very interested in creating debate teams in their schools,” Arnett said. “It was an incredible opportunity to help grow debate in Vietnam.”

The UK Debate team, housed in the College of Communication and Information, begins their 2023-2024 season in September at Northwestern University. Team members return to campus early for an annual “work week” in preparation for the start of the season. This early start also gives team members ample time to research this year’s topic, the desirability of restricting the United States’ nuclear forces before the season kicks off. The team has high expectations for this year as most of the team is returning from a sweet sixteen finish at last year’s national championship.

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