Wednesday, December 24, 2008

IDEA launches online debate adjudication journal

Deliberation, an online, peer-reviewed academic journal focused on adjudication of competitive academic debates, was launched this December. Deliberation solicits and publishes the critical analysis of academic debating rounds in the format of the World Universities Debating Championships that present interesting, unusual or compelling circumstances and from which may be drawn useful insights and generalizations about the best practices of debating and adjudication. The journal intends to publish quarterly editions, depending on the quantity and quality of submissions received. Submissions are welcome from adjudicators who served as chairs or panelists, concerning debates from preliminary or elimination round competition at any tournament.

Each year, Deliberation will publish a special issue featuring the reflections of adjudicators on the panel for the Grand Final of the World Universities Debating Championships.

Read the journal.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Third IDEA-BFSU Tournament a Success!

In cooperation with the School of English and International Studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University, IDEA held the third annual IDEA-BFSU four-team parliamentary debate tournament from December 5th to the 7th. 250 students from provinces across China joined together to debate topics ranging from curbing Somali piracy to policies in student dormitories.

Unlike previous tournaments that IDEA has sponsored in the PRC, this tournament included a Chinese-language division as well as the English-language division. Many participants had been at BFSU just a month earlier for the IDEA Mandarin and English debate workshop. 84 teams participated in the English division and 40 teams participated in the Mandarin division. The English division broke to octafinals, with students weighing the pros and cons of abolishing veto power in the United Nations’ Security Council. The Mandarin division broke to quarterfinals, where both divisions debated the motion “This house would not allow foreigners to own a controlling interest in Chinese companies.” Semifinals saw rousing debates on if and how China should support for “DINK” (Dual-Income, No Kids) families. For the final round, both divisions debated different motions on environment policy.

First place in the Mandarin division went to Xi’an International Studies University and second place was won by Peking University. First place in the English division was captured by a team combined of one student from Beijing Foreign Studies University and another from Willamette University. Capitol Normal University won second place in the Mandarin division.

Many thanks to Jason Jarvis for donating his time to run tab, and to Karen, Effie, Yang Ge, Cecily, Jingkai and others at BFSU for their help.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dates announced for the International Tournament of Champions

IDEA and Willamette University are pleased to announce the fourth annual International Tournament of Champions for High School Parliamentary Debate. The tournament, which will use the standard American Parliamentary Debate format, will be hosted on the Campus of Willamette University in Salem, Oregon on May 21-23, 2009.

Debates will begin on May 22 and will continue through the afternoon of May 23. All teams will compete in six preliminary rounds. A number of elimination rounds appropriate to the size of the tournament will follow the preliminary rounds.

IDEA and the Willamette University Debate Union will conduct a parliamentary debate workshop on the afternoon of May 21. All debaters entered in the tournament, as well as any other debaters who wish to register can participate in the debate workshop.
For more information and to register, visit the webpage.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

IDEA Trains in Ulsan, South Korea

IDEA and the U.S. Embassy in Seoul partnered to hold a debate training in the southern coastal town of Ulsan, South Korea, on December 8. Two training sessions were held at Ulsan's Teacher Training Institute: one for high school English teachers on integrating debate curriculum into their classes, and another for elementary and middle school students on the basics of debate.

In the first session, 55 teachers and I discussed the concept of debate, the benefits of using it to teach English and ideas for debate-centered lesson plans. After viewing part of a recorded debate on using corporal punishment in schools, we talked about how to adopt a similar format to the classroom setting. We then held a sample debate “class” where each participant chose an argument, had their argument refuted by others, and crafted a speech summarizing and addressing the refutations. All teachers also received copies of Idebate Press' "Speaking Across the Curriculum" and talked about ideas for using the lesson plans in the book in Korean high school English classes.

Around 60 middle and late elementary school students participated in the second session. Together, we talked about what makes a good debate, watched part of a debate and did several activities to give everyone an opportunity to try debating. The group was an active one: after the first activity on defending arguments, nearly half of the students volunteered to give their speeches. The second activity got lots of kids excited, as each small group chose a job that they considered to be the “best” and wrote arguments in defense of their job. At the end, we had several of the groups debate each other on what occupation had the greatest benefits. The end of the session saw some lively discussions on whether being a singer or being a diplomat would be a more fulfilling career— definitely a difficult choice.

I would like to thank Ms. An Sun-Nam and Ms. Yim Soo-Bin from the U.S. Embassy for their help, as well as the Ms. Ryu Wee-Ja and Ms. Lee Kyung-Suk from the Uslan Teacher Training Institute for their support and hospitality. IDEA looks forward to collaborating with Teacher Training programs in the future and hopes to see debate become a regular part of the curriculum in schools throughout Korea.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Debating in the Neighborhood

Presentation about Belarus debate program on IDEA Excahnge 2008 held in Amsterdam, 4-6 December.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

IDEA launches new subsite for the 2009 Bosnia and Herzegovina Leadership Program

The subsite for the 2009 Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Leadership Program is now up. Here, participating BiH students and teachers can prepare for their trip overseas. The site also features information for potential host families, a community blog, and tentative schedule. More content will be added in the coming months.

During April of 2009, the program will welcome BiH youth leaders and teachers to the campus of Willamette University. Through community service projects, hands-on learning with Willamette Academy students, cultural outings, and participation in engaging debates, students will expand their understanding of democratic processes, and build appreciation of various beliefs and cultures. Students and teachers wrap up their journey with a trip to Washington, DC, where they will walk the National Mall and take in its world-class museums.

To learn more, visit the site.

The month-long program is a partnership between the US Department of State, US Embassy in Sarajevo, BiH, and Willamette University in Salem, OR.

Why the Web Works Wonders for Debating

David Crane presentation on IDEA Exchange 2008 held in Amsterdam.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Results are in for The People Speak Fall Global Debates!

Out of all of the great plans the UN Foundation received, IDEA chose these four schools to receive prizes:


Solvista Secondary School, South Africa Read their plan
Alief Kerr High School, Texas, U.S. Read their plan

Orh Avner, Ukraine

Villa Maria Academy, Chile

Congratulations to the winners!

Monday, December 01, 2008

The “Golden autumn” of Belarusian debates

Autumn in Belarus has come to its logical conclusion, and it’s high time we analysed the results. The work of Belarusian debaters really deserves the description ‘fruitful’ during these three months. Here are just a few of the activities we held.

In September, we prolonged the summer as much as possible by visiting the southern Belarus town of Svetlogorsk, which greeted us with sunny weather and a surprising interest in debate. Despite the town’s small size, the debate movement in Svetlogorsk is very active. Pupils had been studying debates for a week with the help of Slovak coaches Kubo Macak, Matej Macak and Matej Kurian. We participated in their lessons and were amazed by the children’s enthusiasm despite the challenges of language. Both children and coaches enjoyed the week and even organized a real debate tournament at the end. We watched the games, helped debaters overcome the embarrassment and difficulties of the language barrier, and were pleased with the eagerness and quality we saw. All in all, we were reluctant to leave Svetlogorsk, and delighted to have new friends and fellow debaters. Our enthusiasm had the locals in Svetlogorsk interested in organizing a real club there and the students are eager to participate in our national tournaments.

Dreary October weather didn’t deplete our energy. The small village of Byhov, which invited debate coaches to work with their pupils, is not only historically significant, but also a town where people can and want to debate. During the seminar there, we taught children and coaches the main rules and principles of debates, as well as the importance of debates in today’s society. In the village of Gluhovo, our task was to convince teachers and pupils that debating is not a privilege of big cities – they can also learn to debate and succeed as well as anyone else. The inhabitants of the village were inspired by this notion, and formed a debate club.
The culmination of the autumn events came in November, the coldest month. But inside the debate rooms it was rather hot. A traditional Autumn debate tournament was held in Minsk, the capital of Belarus. This year the tournament was a significant one – not only were there many teams from Minsk, as well as other cities and towns of Belarus, and not only we did we greet our traditional guests from St. Petersburg (Russia), but it was also the first visit to Belarus of debaters from Yakutsk, the capital of Yakutia, the autonomous republic of the Russian Federation. Seven brave children and their teacher flew 13 hours and then took a long train ride to arrive here. They were happy with the “warm” weather (5Cº above zero versus -15Cº in their homeland), Belarusian hospitality, and of course the profound and interesting debates. The tournament consisted not only of games, but a presentation of Belarusian and Yakutian culture, traditional food and drinks and a great number of songs. Not everyone was satisfied with his or her debate results, but everyone enjoyed the atmosphere of friendship and intelligence during this tournament.

Autumn has ended… but many of the debate projects still fill our minds, and we hope to keep them warm enough through winter to realize all of them.
-- Nastya Zhvalevskaya, Belarus

Monday, November 17, 2008

IDEA Mandarin Training: Yang Ge's Report

Debate trainer Yang Ge helped translate curriculum and train at last week's Mandarin and English Debate Workshop at BFSU. Check out her report below, or visit Robert Trapp's page for the full report and copies of the curriculum here:

The International Debate Education Association (IDEA), in association with Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) has been involved in teaching English-language debate for the past three years. For the past two years, we have held workshops and tournaments in English. Since last year’s tournament and workshop at BFSU, IDEA has initiated a further move in debate education: Four—team British Parliamentary Debate training ---- in Mandarin.

Chinese Mandarin debaters, who already have a long fine tradition of debate, may find the new format hard to accept. Indeed, it is a pioneering and challenging move to introduce Western-style debate in Mandarin language. With this concern in mind, IDEA created a curriculum for Four-team debating and three facilitators (He Jingkai, Li Xi, and Yang Ge) prepared to teach a workshop on Four-team debate, also known as British Parliamentary style (BP) debate. Prior to the workshop, the three of us and others recorded a demonstration debate in Mandarin, The demonstration debate was used to introduce the workshop, which was followed by lectures and discussions of various topics ranging from rules and roles to refutation to constructing arguments for the proposition and opposition.

Li Xi began the training by explaining rules and roles of four-team debate while simultaneously playing the demonstration to the audience. The topic “China should legalize the marriage between the same sexes.” was a dashing one and the atmosphere was hilarious. The audience was composed mostly of veteran Mandarin debaters, and it was their first time to be engaged in this style of debate. Except for Tom Smithurst an Australian, majoring in Law in Beijing University and a former BP debater in Australia, all of the debaters were full of curiosity and surprise. Tom took it a good opportunity to practice Chinese, as well as debate here.
The first day’s exposure to BP filled the audience with doubts. For example, since every debater had 7 continuous minutes to speak, they were worried they couldn’t make full 7 minutes (traditional Mandarin debate involves free debating and each debater is assigned fewer minutes.) Since the Prime Minister bore the right and responsibility to define the motion for his own sake, the opposition seemed to lose the edge and advantage. Mandarin debate does not have this rule. Some felt puzzled about definition and policy-making. A few even suggested adjusting the format.

The following morning, He Jingkai described how to define a motion and construct a case for the proposition. His vivid lecture involved a lot of personal experience as a debater. The essence of four-team debate began to dawn on the audience: it provides teams with the opportunity to learn creative problem solving and think outside the box in the spirit of democracy, humanism, respect to the individual rights and freedom. With some exercises of practicing defining motions followed, they became more excited about BP. Many interactive questions centered on how to justify the value each team proposed.

With many doubts cleared away, my lecture on refutation became easier. I introduced the methods of refutation, and I focused on evaluation of a quality argument, how to connect evidence to a claim through logical reasoning. This kind of logical reasoning is not considered so important in our traditional Mandarin debate.

On the third day, my discussion of constructing argument for the opposition and Li Xi’s talk about “Extension creation” went very smoothly. She covered varieties of values and perspectives to analyze.

At the end of training we were happy to find debaters have been prepared to try on a full debate of BP. We set the topic “Zoos should be closed” and chose volunteers to engage in the debate. They showed great confidence and enthusiasm in debating although with slight traces of traditional debate. Tom was one of the 8 debaters. We had not been able to imagine how superb he was to debate in Mandarin.

I felt highly impressed and encouraged by the audience in our workshop. We formed new friendships with people who are definitely fast and enthusiastic learners, open-and-democratic-minded young college students, full of vitality and intelligence. It was such an amazing experience for me, and I look forward to the IDEA-BFSU tournament in December.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

IDEA Trains in Mandarin and English

IDEA has organized a number of events in China, but last week marked its first step into native-language debate programs. IDEA collaborated with the School of English and Collaborative Studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) for a three-day debate workshop from November 7th to November 9th, with simultaneous divisions in Mandarin and English.

Using curriculum written by Dr. Robert Trapp and translated into Mandarin by Yang Ge, Li Xi, He Jingkai, Wu Mian, Wang Yingchong and Li Chaoyuan, students in the Mandarin division learned the basics debate in the British Parliamentary format. After watching a sample debate on whether or not gay marriage should be legal in China on Friday, students participated in sessions on interpreting debate motions, case construction, refutation and opposition arguments on Saturday and Sunday. Yang Ge, Li Xi, He Jingkai and Wu Mian led the Mandarin division. 36 participants from various schools across China participated.

Across the hall, a simultaneous session was held in English by Dr. Robert Trapp, Dr. Kevin Minch and I. We started off with an overview of the rules and roles of four-team debating, and then let some brave volunteers take the stage for a sample debate on the motion “This house would ban zoos.” The same subjects were covered as in the Mandarin division. All 160 students had plenty of time to practice building and presenting cases and opposition arguments on resolutions about coal mining, protecting the environment and school uniforms.

In the spirit of the workshop, we held a language contest of our own. After going over the registration forms, Robert, Kevin and I realized that most students in both divisions had English as well as Mandarin names—so we asked for second names of our own! Thanks to everyone who entered the contest, and feel free to call us by our new Mandarin names 池若博 (Robert), 凯敏奇 (Kevin) and 韩依蓓 (Elizabeth) next time you see us.

Debaters interested in Mandarin and English debates have a chance to hone their skills next month at the IDEA-BFSU Four Team Tournament from December 5th through December 7th. Two simultaneous divisions in Mandarin and English will be held, and there are no tournament fees. To read more, click here.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

IDEA Fall Training in Malaysia

Lecturers from polytechnics across Malaysia met last weekend in the northern town of Kulim for a debate workshop and tournament. The Politeknik Tuanku Sultanah Bahiyahin (PTSB) hosted representatives from 12 different schools, including some in the eastern Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak.

Over four days, Azrul, Kye and I worked with lecturers and some of their students on the basics of British Parliamentary, or “Worlds School” debate. We started off with discussions, lectures and group sessions, and ended with a small tournament. It was amazing to see how quickly everyone latched onto the concepts, and the final debates were exceptional!

On the first evening, Azrul covered the basics of critical thinking and how to talk in front of a crowd. All of those apprehensive about speaking in public had their worries eased when Azrul reminded us that Abraham Lincoln, Sokarno and Moses were all nervous before speeches—it’s a normal problem! We ended the evening with a game that allowed students and lecturers to practice speaking in front of people and making simple arguments.

On Friday, students and lecturers learned about speaker roles, how to set up a debate, and rules of argument construction. We also watched a video of the final round of one of Malaysia’s top tournaments. Following lunch, Azrul took the lecturers and Kye and I took the students. In small groups, everyone practiced giving short speeches and writing debate cases. The lecturers split into teams of two and had their first debate competition on the controversial issue of oil subsidies.

Saturday started off with a session on how to judge a debate and more practice in small groups. We continued the lecturer competition and began the student portion, with everyone debating on the motion, “This house would make mandatory military service optional.” For the next round, students discussed the merits and drawbacks of fast food advertising. The final round for the students was held that evening with representatives from two schools. It was a lively round with a good number of points of information and an active audience. Students debated on the topic “This house would abolish school uniforms” and the opening opposition took home first.

Sunday saw the finals of the lecturers’ section—a rousing debate on limiting immigration to Malaysia. The final award went to the closing opposition team, with excellent analysis on the work of immigrants in building infrastructure and a solid summary speech. The audience was packed, and extended beyond the auditorium—it was streamed live on the internet from PTSB’s website!

I would like to thank Azrul and Kye from the International Islamic University of Malaysia for lending their time and expertise, and Lye and Nara from PTSB for organizing such an excellent workshop and being terrific hosts.

Though a number of public universities in Malaysia have debate programs, debate is a new activity in polytechnics. Based on the interest and skill displayed this past weekend, though, polytechnic debate seems to quickly be gaining speed!

Friday, October 31, 2008

IDEA on Twitter

Follow IDEA on twitter:

You can find new information on events, debate tournaments and other IDEA's activities.

Stay tuned with IDEA's twits!!!

Also, you can follow IDEA's twits through RSS:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Only 2 days remain to participate in IDEA's Climate Change Action Plan Contest

Still fishing for inspiration?
Find out what algae has to do with climate change!

Some people think algae could be used to filter C02 emissions from coal plants
and produce biofuel for vehicles.

Others have proposed iron fertilization of algae blooms as a way to
reduce current levels of atmospheric CO2.

Is algae an ingenious solution to the climate crisis or a dead end?

What do you think?

Don’t miss your chance to speak up.
Join the Global Debates today!

Submit your Climate Change Action Plan by October 31st
and your team could win great prizes…from free debate training to iPod shuffles!

Click here for details about this exciting contest.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Final Week to Submit Climate Change Action Plans

Global Debates competitors:

This is your last week to wow IDEA’s judges with your Climate Change Action Plan!

Why should the world accept your plan to significantly combat climate change?

Submit your plan by Friday, October 31st to compete for great prizes for your team.

Find more information on prizes here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

IDEA launces a new site focused on Balkan countries

IDebate.WB is a subsidiary of IDebate that focuses on the happenings around the countries of the Balkans. What makes IDebate.WB different is that submissions, news and articles are to be published in the native tongues of the speakers of these countries. Additionally, we will focus on the events within these countries.

This site is dedicated to educate about debates and promote the value of debate by publishing news and articles about debate events, projects and programs in the Balkan countries.

IDEA develops, organizes, educate and promotes debate and debate-related activities in communities throughout the world.

Our Purpose
  • To educate the public in Balkan countires about debates and the value of debate
  • To promote the values of debate in these countries
  • To inspire critical discussion and analysis about ongoing society issuses
  • To improve the quality of debate within these Balkan countries

Submit your Climate Change Action Plans NOW!!!

Join students all over the world who are writing their Climate Change Action Plans and holding debates in their schools.

Compete to win a trip to the 2009 UN Foundation Youth Leadership Summit in New York City!

What’s your plan?

Don’t forget: if you want to be considered for some great prizes from IDEA, October 31st is the last day to submit your Climate Change Action Plan.

Not sure what to focus on?

Have some ideas but lack the evidence you need?

Check out the great resources on Debatepedia’s Climate Change Portal.

Submit your plan by October 31st and your team could win great prizes…from free debate training to iPod shuffles!

Click here for details about this exciting contest.

For more information about the Global Debates visit The People Speak.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Open Society Institute’s Undergraduate Exchange Program 2009-2010

The Undergraduate Exchange Program (UEP) supports students from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Serbia, and Ukraine* in the United States for one year of non-degree academic studies. Applicants must currently be enrolled as a second-year student at a university in their home country to be eligible.

The program seeks to assist educational and civic development in Southeastern and Eastern Europe and Mongolia by exposing participants to a liberal-arts curriculum, different models of classroom instruction, community service work, and civil society–related programming. UEP combines the U.S. liberal arts academic experience with exposure to American social issues and civic development through involvement in community service–related work. The program aims to create lasting ties among participants and their American colleagues, thereby contributing to cultural understanding and tolerance.

Participants attend a university or college in the United States for one year. While in the United States, grantees agree to complete 25 hours per semester of community service work in an area of interest to them. At the end of the year, they are expected to return home to complete their degrees. Once back in their home country, grantees complete a community-based service project in their own community.

For more information and an application form, please see

Applications are due Monday, December 1, 2008.

Please forward this announcement to those who would be interested in this program.

*Applicants from Ukraine must be studying in the regions of Dnipropetrovska, Donetsk, Kharkiv, Khersonska, Luhansk, Mykolaivska, Odeska, Poltava, Sumy, or Zaporizhzhya to be eligible.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

USAID 2008 Development 2.0 Challenge

USAID is proud to announce the launch of the 2008 USAID Development 2.0 Challenge.
Brought to you by the Global Development Commons.

Mobile technology, including everything from inventive applications for smart phones to simple text messaging, is increasingly ubiquitous in the developing world. USAID challenges you to
explore its potential through an innovation for maximum development impact in areas such as health, banking, education, agricultural trade, or other pressing development issues.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Government agency that delivers economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide on behalf of the American people, is sponsoring a challenge to find the best in mobile innovations for good. Through a NetSquared community vote, fifteen finalists will be chosen. A panel of judges, selected by USAID, will then select the winners. The first place winner will receive a grant of $10,000, the two runner-ups will receive grants of $5,000 each. All three winners will have the opportunity to present their ideas to senior USAID officials, experts, and the public in WashingtonD.C.

Interested in finding out more? View complete Challenge details at 2008 USAID Development 2.0 Challenge. Be sure to read the Rules and Guidelines. For further questions, please email:

3rd Presidential Debate Analyses

Read the full analyses at:

IDEA encourages you to comment and to write your opinions on IDEA Election Debate site. IDEA welcome the debate.

Also, IDEA is willing to accept your analysis. Please send your analysis including a short bio at:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

IDEA Exchange 2008

Dear Members of IDEA,

The IDEA Exchange 2008 will take place in Amsterdam this year between the 4th and 6th of December.

The topic for this year exchange is Debate and Dialogue.

We would like to encourage participants to take active part in the Exchange by:

1. Making individual or team presentations (30-45 min. in length) : showcasing a methodology, project, publication, event, etc.

2. Participating in a panel discussion (participants are welcome to propose their own panels together with other presenters)

3. Showcasing a lesson, training sessions, educational exercise, etc.

4. Offering a workshop

For more information please follow this link:

Confirm your attendance at Facebook Event Page: IDEA Exchange 2008.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Analyses for the 2nd presidential debate

Read the full analyses at:

IDEA encourages you to comment and to write your opinions on IDEA Election Debate site. IDEA welcome the debate.

Also, IDEA is willing to accept your analysis. Please send your analysis including a short bio at:

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Presidential Debate needs your expert opinion

Open call to everyone:

Watch the next Presidential Debate, October 7th, 9 p.m ET.

Be a debate judge and write your opinion about who had stronger arguments and evidence and who ultimately won the debate.

Send your expert opinions to:

IDEA is waiting to read your analyses and to post them on:

Friday, October 03, 2008

Open call for judging election debates

Dear all,

IDEA is about to launch a new web site dedicated to the analyses of election debates. This website will present popular analyses and opinions of debate workers over said debates.

This is an open call to anyone interested in providing analyses or opinions on debates between the presidential and VP candidates.

IDEA needs your expertise to improve the quality of election debates by critically assessing the quality of debates as well as the performance of individual candidates.

All you need to do is to be a debate judge. Watch the debates and write your opinion about who had stronger arguments and evidence and who ultimately won the debate.

Send your expert opinions to: IDEA is waiting to hear your opinions and read your analyses.

All the best!

Mite Kuzevski.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Submit your Cilmate Change Action Plan and win

It’s October 1st: The People Speak Global Debates start TODAY!

IDEA will award 2 GRAND PRIZES, with one prize reserved for a non-U.S. school. Submit your Climate Change Action Plan online by October 31st, you’ll be automatically entered into a competition for the best plans.

CLICK HERE for more information.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Join the Global Debate!

Be a part of something BIG! High school students across the globe are joining together to discuss climate change and how they can make a difference.

Register now to participate in The People Speak Global Debates 2008-09, and be eligible for a trip to the United Nations Foundation Youth Summit in New York City July of 2009!

Visit The People Speak to learn more.

New to the Global Debates? New to debate, period? Here are some resources to get you started:

Use IDEA's
Global Climate Change Portal to research climate change for your debate.

Use the how-to guides in the Global Debates Toolkit Center to plan your debate & create multimedia projects for points.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Peace, Prosperity, and Progress

"We shall aim for the three P's!" one student in the Leadership Course at the SYDHR Youth Forum said with resolve. As part of the Leadership Course, students are to design their own Constitutions. Many of groups created flags to go with their national birds and national anthems--one of which was "It's My Life" by Bon Jovi. What to do? They said it had been decided democratically.

The SYDHR Youth Forum began on Saturday, August 16th and will continue until this Saturday, August 23rd at Hotel Termal in Mataruska Banja, Serbia. 72 students from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Slovenia are attending the Forum, which began with three days of classes in human rights, leadership, and debate and will end with a two-day mixed teams tournament.

Tomorrow is excursion day, and we will visit two monasteries somewhat near Mataruska Banja.

Good students. Good staff. Good place. Good debate.

Videos created by students in the Citizen Journalism Track

IDEA Debate and Citizen Journalism Institute 2008

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Video from the KPDC Semi-Finals

Video thumbnail. Click to play
Romania ARDOR v. United Kingdom

Other semi-final debate and KPDC final round coming soon!

Videos from Round 3 & 4 of the KPDC

Round Three

Video thumbnail. Click to play
Israel v. Romania Pache

Bulgaria 1 v. USA Baltimore
(Coming soon. Technical difficulties, sorry)

Round Four

Smolyan Observatory Observes Other, Larger Observatories


A Smolyan Herald investigative reporter has discovered that astronomers at the Smolyan Observatory apparently spend a large portion of their work day observing other observatories on this planet. Despite having a highly trained and professional staff and the largest telescope in Southeast Europe, head astronomer Dr. Georgi Petrov stated in an interview yesterday that there exist many other, more impressive observatories that “we just had to check out.”

Popular choices for Dr. Petrov and his staff are the Gran Telescopio Caranrias in Spain, the VLT Interferometer in Cerro Paranal, Chile and Bolshoi Teleskop Azimutalnyi in Russia, which Petrov describes as “totally sweet.”

The Smolyan Telescope is capable of observing light from stars 5.5 billion light years away and routinely discovers 100 asteroids per year. Nonetheless, observing other observatories remains the staff pastime. Dr. Petrov, who has managed the telescope since its opening in 1981, said “watching other observatories make astonishing and important discoveries is extremely rewarding for us. In fact, our observatory holds the record for discovering more discoveries made by other observatories than any other observatory.”

Although generally harmless, the habit of observing other observatories has occasionally caused controversy with telescope lovers the world over. One particularly troublesome brouhaha came about when Dr. Petrov and his crew found that the staff at the Bolshoi Teleskop Asimutalnyi tried to use the observatory’s ultra powerful lenses and mirrors to play Nintendo Wii games projected on the surface of the moon. After Petrov went public about the Bolshoi incident, a firestorm of debate engulfed observers across the world over the ethics of observatories publicly criticizing one another.

“To be fair,” said Petrov in his own defense, “These other observatories are located several lightminutes away from ours. For all we know, by the time the light reaches our telescope, these other observatories could already have been destroyed by an exploding star or decrease in government funding. Petrov was then forced to cut the interview short, stating that he had to “go watch two Russian astronomers make out.”

Dr. Stonjev Departs, Smolyan Viper Flu Ravages Forum

It has been called the "debater-eater," the "devil's revenge" and the "reason no one showed up for Bill's lab yesterday," but scientists are calling it the "Smolyan Viper Flu." Official reports state that over 80% of the Forum attendees have been hospitalized at some point within the past week. Forum organizers are considering moving classes to the hospital building, stating that "more students will attend class" and "the food is better there." This clearly indicates that our last hope is gone: Dr. Marjan Stojnev has left the camp.

Those of you who have never lost consciousness during a debate, only to awake upon Stojnev's back en route to the infirmary, may be unfamiliar with Dr. Stojnev. The man is both IDEA's resident technology coordinator and unlicensed doctor. He is the first person staffers look to when the shit hits the fan, literally and figuratively, and has saved the lives of countless debaters. Last Friday, he saved a girl from a seizure just by looking her sternly in the eyes.

On Monday, he performed surgery on a debater with his left hand while tabbing the Karl Popper tournament on his laptop with his right. During the 2006 Youth Forum in Romania, a girl was attacked by a bear. Stojnev came to her rescue, wrestling the bear to the ground, reasoning with it, befriending it, and riding it to the hospital as he held the girl in his arms, simultaneously giving her an emergency transfusion of his own blood.

But our guardian angel is no longer here to save us. On Tuesday, Stojnev departed for his homeland of Macedonia to remove Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's gall bladder and "maybe sleep for an hour." Since his departure, cases of Smolyan Viper Flu have increased by 6,000%. Said one hospitalized student, "I don't know how I got sick so quickly! All I did was drink four Red Bulls, some beer, and no water. It's a good thing I didn't sleep at all, otherwise I might not have known I was sick until it was too late." The Director of the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC), Julie Louise Gerberding, noted that with Stojnev’s departure from Smolyan, “there is a high probability of a hybrid outbreak of the Bubonic Plague and Whooping Cough.” Regardless, at the current dropout rate, the mixed teams tournament is expected to consist of only one round, judged by a group of local squirrels.

British Parli at the IDEA Youth Forum

For the first time, the IDEA Youth Forum is facilitating British Parliamentary Debate . Led by Steve Johnson, Logan and Chris Richter, 16 students are participating in this new track.

British Parliamentary Debate features 4 teams all competing against each other under 1 motion. A motion is released, depending on the country, 15-30 minutes before the debate. The motion for the demonstration debate last night was “This house would ban political parties defined by religious ideology.”

Although seemingly confusing at first, the 4 team format is actually quite systematic and accessible. The four teams are called Opening Government, Closing Government, Opening Opposition and Closing Opposition. Each team consists of 2 people and each speaker gives a 7 minute constructive speech with Points of Information permissible in all 8 speeches.

The Opening Government defines the scope of the motion, defines terms and proposes a case in support of the motion. Generally, but not always, BP motions are quite open, meaning that the Opening Government has the responsibility to set up a good debate for all.

The Opening Opposition usually agrees with the way that the Opening Government has set up the debate and proposes its own case in opposition to the Government stance. The first 2 teams in a BP debate are generally referred to as the “opening house.”

The Closing Government team should both support the Opening Government team and also put forth a “case extension.” The extension should be unique material that defends the motion and the Opening Government case. For example, if the Opening Government takes a practical or policy viewpoint on the motion, the Closing Government may look at different policy implications or take a theoretical stance or defend the motion in any other way they see it. The second speaker from this team should summarize the debate, particularly from the Closing Government perspective.

The Closing Opposition should, much like its government counterpart, should provide unique material in the form of an extension while also remaining consistent with the Opening Government team’s logic. The last speaker should summarize the round from a Closing Opposition perspective.

IDEA will be sponsoring several BP events this upcoming academic year in the US, Korea and Botswana. Keep checking the IDEA website at to learn more.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Top 25 Teams

After the 6 preliminary rounds, these were the top 25 teams at the 14th IDEA Youth Forum Karl Popper Debate Championship:








USA Unicorns






United Kingdom






Romania ARDOR






Korea KMLA






Israel 1






Israel 2












Russia St.Pete 1












Lithuania 3












Korea KYGD






Lithuania 2






Lithuania 1






Korea SIS


















Mixed 3 Korea-UK












USA Baltimore












Mixed 2 Georgia-Korea


















Estonia Rapla