Campus News

UK Debate Launches Coalition to Support K-12 Debate Education

A demonstration debate by members of the UK Debate team.
A demonstration debate by members of the UK Debate Team.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 8, 2020) — The University of Kentucky Intercollegiate Debate Team, one of the most successful collegiate debate teams in the country, has launched a new program called the Bluegrass Debate Coalition (BDC) to share their resources and expertise with middle school and high school debaters across the state of Kentucky. 

The BDC works with Kentucky schools to make competitive debate available to every middle school and high school student in the state. Debate has been proven to increase student academic performance. It also enriches and expands college and career opportunities and provides intellectual and networking tools for young people to thrive as active, responsible leaders in their communities. The BDC offers free educational resources, supports the development of new debate programs and hosts free online tournaments.

There are several upcoming opportunities for Kentucky students to get involved with the BDC. Beginning Oct. 20, the BDC will offer a free, six-week afterschool program to all middle school and high school students in the state. The purpose of the program is to provide high-quality debate instructions to all students, regardless of whether or not they have any previous experience or belong to an established debate team. 

“The After School Debate Program will offer a free, fun, low-stress way for students to try out debate,” BDC Director Lily Nellans explained. “Any student can enjoy and succeed at debate. It’s really about learning how to organize and effectively communicate your ideas. Our program will focus on teaching students the fundamentals of argumentation, research and public speaking, skills that will benefit students far beyond competitive debate.”

Students can register for the after-school debate classes here

In addition to the after-school course, the BDC is also hosting a series of free, online tournaments. “We are focused on creating a positive and educational environment for students to gain competitive experience,” Nellans said.

There are also many ways for interested adults to support debate in Kentucky, including volunteering to judge at BDC tournaments. 

This is only the beginning of what Kentucky can expect from the BDC. Plans for supporting the creation of new debate teams, a low-cost summer camp for students, a summer coaches’ clinic and more are all in the works. 

The BDC and the UK Debate Team are housed in the University of Kentucky’s College of Communication and Information. To learn more about the Bluegrass Debate Coalition and how you can get involved, please visit

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