Monday, August 31, 2009

The countdown is on for IDEA Exchange 2009!

This year’s Exchange will be held on December 12-13th at Goldsmiths University in London, with IDEA’s General Assembly preceding it on December 11th. This event invites university students and professors, debate activists, youth workers, and educators who work with debate. Hosted by IDEA, Goldsmiths University, and Debatewise, this annual event allows participants to exchange ideas and experiences, and work together in developing and learning about projects.

This year, the Exchange is also counting towards the European Year of Creativity and Innovation (2009), which is raising awareness of the importance of creativity and innovation for personal, social and economic development. Specifically, the Exchange itself is focusing on how new media can promote debate and dialogue, participation and social change. We encourage teachers and educators interested in new media, young promoters of online debates and communication, social entrepreneurs and activists, bloggers, journalists, video makers and website developers to apply.

To explore this topic, participants will gather to share and learn through discussions, demonstrations, and interaction with one another. Participants are encouraged to bring a presentation or workshop that will further the exploration of new media. This may include making individual or team presentations, organizing and participating in a panel discussion, showcasing a lesson, or offering workshop training.

The deadline for presentation/workshop proposals and registration is October 1st. For more information about this event, please visit the website.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Get your IDEA Twibbon!

Do you like tweeting on Twitter? Well, now you can show your support for IDEA everytime you tweet, because IDEA just got its very own twibbon! You can go to iDebate's very own page on Twibbon to start representing our organization!

Twibbon is a new feature for Twitter, which lets users promote organizations and causes they support by putting an icon on their profile picture. All you have to do is choose iDebate for your twibbon, and IDEA's icon will overlay your Twitter avatar. For more how-to information, click here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

More good news for the 350 movement!

On August 25th, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendera Pachauri, endorsed 350 parts per million as the new target number for the level of CO2 in the earth's atmosphere. In an interview he stated, "What is happening and what is likely to happen, convinces me that the world must be really ambitious and very determined at moving toward a 350 target." Read the full article here.

This backing from one of the top UN climate scientists comes as excellent momentum for the 350 movement. Before the chairman's statement, 450 parts per million had been the goal, set by a 2007 report given by the IPCC. This number has since been reduced, due to many factors- such as the Arctic melting, the decay of Greenland's ice sheet, and proof of methane release from permafrost.

This is great news for the international youth climate movement, showing that progress is indeed being made with some of the top scientists and leaders of the world. It comes just in time for the anticipation of October 24th- a "Day of Action" set for events around the globe set to spread the message of 350.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Check out what the Climate Advocacy Institute graduates are doing!

Participants at the Climate Advocacy Institute this past July used their creativity to share their ideas and create projects to spread environmental awareness. Now, these students are branching out into their own communities, using their ingenuity to promote sustainability and green living!

Some Institute alumni are now participating in a global competition called “Imagine,” hosted by GlobalFOCUS. This organization focuses on ways to influence policies and investments toward greener possibilities for the future. The “Imagine” competition is collecting positive visions for a bright sustainable future, where people live rich and fruitful lives without harming the planet. The best visions will be collected and presented to policymakers and stakeholders at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this December. This is an opportunity for participants to take what they learned at the Institute and implement it into global policies that will affect how we all live.

Climate Advocacy Institute graduates are creating original projects that helped spread the message of the 350 movement, which focuses on ways to lower the CO2 level to 350 parts per million. Many students have taken on leadership roles with that movement, and this competition is giving the students the same opportunity.

Good luck to all the participants and thank you for promoting a better future for our planet!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Climate Advocacy Institute participants taking action for the 350 movement!

The Climate Advocacy Institute has equipped its young leaders with the advocacy skills they need to make an impact. Together with the Climate Advocacy Institute partner, these activists are preparing for a true movement!

This past July, IDEA, Bloomfield College, and hosted the Climate Advocacy Institute in Turkey. This three-week Institute hosted students from around the globe. This year, it focused on the 350 movement — an international campaign inspiring people everywhere to help lower our atmosphere’s CO2 level to 350 parts per million. And October 24th marks a milestone in the campaign, as the organization has been planning for a Day of Action around the world. Some students from the Institute are not only becoming active in the campaign, but they're also becoming spokespersons for the movement. They're taking action in their own communities on October 24th.

In Panama, Franco Fong is helping raise awareness about the campaign by giving presentations at local schools and universities. He’s also helping plan a group hike at the Metropolitan Natural Park at the end of September. Nadim Haidar, in Lebanon, is organizing an event that includes “a large amount of people lining up on the sea shore, carrying a 350 banner, possibly followed by a short march.” He’s working not only with 350, but also with IndyAct, to get the youth from his region involved on the Day of Action. Vesna Velevska and Simona Jandrevska from Macedonia are going to “group human 350 on the city square,” and “form 350 from canoes on one of Skopje artificial lakes.” They’re working in collaboration with a local organization, the Youth Educational Forum, to host the event.

Students from Bloomfield College are also getting involved by forming the "Green Hearts Environmental Movement". This new organization is hosting events for, and is raising awareness by becoming official spokespersons for New Jersey. They're planning a Day of Action event called "On the Green at Bloomfield College", and they're spreading the word at other events such as Open Mic Night, various fundraisers, and Bloomfield's Harvest Fest in October.

Find out more about the movement and what you can do to spread the message in your community at And to simply find out how you can take part in the 350 movement, check out this guide on how to live greener. You can also watch the new Discovery channel — Planet Green!

The eagerly anticipated Pan-African Universities Debating Championship is back for its second season!

The (PAUDC) Organizing Committee is once again very proud to organize the second annual Pan- African Universities Debating Championships to be held at the University of Botswana main campus in Gaborone from December 12th to 18th, 2009. With more than 15 countries representing the continent of Africa, the competition will offer diversity of thought while building solidarity between near neighbors and distant friends.

Sponsored by the Youth Initiative of the Open Society Institute, the tournament will feature six rounds of debating, including a grand finale. Speaker and coach training workshops will be offered as well as adjucation tests. Accommodations include seven-day lodging, meals, and events. Events include the Opening and Break night parties, Cultural Expo night, the Championship dinner, and a visit to the Mokolodi nature reserve to experience Africa's Big Five!

Early registration takes place from August 15th to October 15th, which is set at approximately $90/person. Late registration lasts from October 20th until November 20th at $110/person. To ensure geographic diversity, countries have been allocated registration slots of four teams per university, and each African country may only enter up to seven universities. However, there is no limit for observers!

For more information, visit the website, or email

Koboko District Debate Championship initiates debate into the region

Koboko witnessed the first ever District Debate Championship, organized by Koboko Youth Development as part of the Youth Empowerment through Debate project. The five-day event proved to be the climax of the debate project, as it attracted over 60 debaters and 15 debate patrons from 12 secondary schools in Koboko and the Mvara SS from the Arua District.

The main motion of the championship was “This house should abolish tobacco growing in the Koboko District.” Since the topic was familiar as a local issue, the students were able to gather facts and evidence for the debate rounds. The Koboko St. Charles Lwanga College took first at the championship for the ordinary level; and Day Star SS won at the advanced level. Each team took home medals and trophies for their outstanding performances.

All of the participants’ levels of debate were impressive, as most students only had one month of debate training from their schools. Dedication from the debate patrons and trainers from the Youth Debate League Uganda, as well as the enthusiasm from students, helped make this championship a success.

The honorable Ambassador James Baba, the minister of the Vice President’s office, was the guest of honor at the closing of the championship. He emphasized the importance of debate in shaping the lives of youth, and he was so impressed by the debate that he made a generous contribution towards the continuation of the debate initiative. Other guests included the District Chairman, the Assistant District Education Officer, the District Female Youth Councilor, and others.

The success of this event marks a new horizon for debate in this region!

Friday, August 14, 2009

WODC update on Day three

August 12 — Wednesday marked the third day of the World Online Debate Championships, a partnership between IDEA and Debatewise, which has teams from around the world debating from their homes.

Congratulations to USA’s STJ — New Kids on the Opp — who won their preliminary round in what was the toughest and strongest field of the three preliminary matches. They managed to both win their debate and get selected over their other three rivals as the best team out of two debates.

Their victory got a positive reaction from Korey Pace the team captain: "This tournament has already been a great learning experience for us because the format calls not only for persuasiveness but also an ample amount of research to back it up. We are looking forward to competing as long as we can in this tournament as the information and feedback we have been receiving has simply just been unmatched to any other tournament we have competed in."

Our other preliminary debate winners in China are, in their own words, "excited" to be competing in the WODC alongside Frances Chou, who is more experienced, and the team captain. They're a bit nervous to be competing against Scotland as, "I'm guessing they are somewhat experienced and we might be out-manned if they have a bigger team than we do. However, we will do our best and look forward to the challenge."

Gear up for Global Debates!

Ready to debate climate change and enter to win great prizes? Join high school students around the world this October in the UN Foundation and IDEA Global Debates! Last year, students in more than 80 countries did, and the winning 16 high schools attended the second annual Youth Leadership Summit in New York City.

Take the first step by registering your team, and receive the latest news that’ll prepare you for your Global Debates.

How to participate:
1. Register your team at
2. Hold a debate in a public setting between October 1st and 31st, 2009
3. Earn extra points by creating blogs, video PSAs, websites, photo essays, and more
4. Submit your debate
5. Compete again in Spring 2010!

Raise your voice! Speak up and get involved today! The People Speak Global Debates is an initiative of the United Nations Foundation and the International Debate Education Association.

Youth Empowerment through Debate launches first District Debate Championship in Koboko!

Koboko Youth in Development (KOYID) is organizing the first ever District Debate Championship. This event will be the climax of the Youth Empowerment through Debate project funded by OSI and will take place on August 14-18, at St. Charles Lwanga College in Uganda. The debate will include approximately 100 participants, comprising of students and debate patrons from 18 secondary schools in the Koboko District, selected members of KOYID, and trainers from the Youth Debate League Uganda team, and others.

This championship marks another milestone in the region, following the training of debate trainers in Koboko in June 2009. This event will also serve as a follow-up activity to get nearby schools involved in the debate scene. May the best debater win!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Debate opens your mind!

Country ExpoShamir Cervantes lives in Salem Oregon, though he is from Mexico, where he visits every summer. He started debating this past April during IDEA’s Youth Leadership Project, hosted at Willamette Academy, Shamir’s high school.

iDebate: You’ve just entered the debate world. What have been your impressions?

Shamir: I've been surprised by debate; it opens your mind a lot.

iDebate: And what about at the Youth Forum in particular?

Shamir: In the USA, there's this whole clash of cultures, but here it's cool because everybody clashes in debates, but not as friends. It's a really great chance to get to know people from all of these different places, without the tension that we have in the US.

iDebate: What did you think of the themes of climate change and juvenile justice?

Shamir: "I liked the environmental topics. It was easy to find evidence, but hard to debate about them, because the issues were really complicated. This one [A just society prioritizes rehabilitation over retribution in its juvenile justice system] is reversed. Now it's about constructing a case."

iDebate: Is there anything you would like to add?

Shamir: "I think it's cool that I'm the first ever Mexican citizen to participate in the youth forum. As Robert Trapp said, with me here, we complete North America."

I want to make a debate club

Countries PhotosFor Milos Dimitrijevic, this year’s Youth Forum was a home event. But he wasn’t waiting his whole life for the Youth Forum to come to Bosnia. In fact, he had only been debating for four days beforehand.

iDebate: How long have you been debating?

Milos: I've been debating competitively 4 days in April and here [at the Youth Forum]."

iDebate: How did you start?

Milos: I traveled to Salem, Oregon, for IDEA’s Youth Leadership Project. The project was about developing ideas for improving the community. I want to make a debate club, with help from IDEA, my school, sponsors, and the American embassy in Sarajevo.

iDebate: What has been your favorite part of the Forum?

Milos: I liked the Finals of the KPDC in the parliament and the free day in Sarajevo. In Sarajevo it was really easy and nice to show people around.

iDebate: Do you have anything to add?

Milos: All of my other debates were better than the ones that were filmed!

Door to better research

Interview with UK debate delegation Frank Hardee teaches at Cranleigh, a boarding school in Surrey, England. Frank convinced his school to allow him to fulfill his coaching duties with academic competition. And so he has become the debate coach of Sam Barrett and Zeno Agnew-Davies, bringing them to their first Youth Forum.

iDebate: How long have you been debating?
Sam: I'd done one debate in my life before coming here.
Zeno: Two years
Frank: I've been coaching for 2 years

iDebate: What do you think of the Mixed Teams Track motion [A just society prioritizes rehabilitation over retribution in its juvenile justice system]?
Sam: I think it's brilliant. It's really interesting to learn about. I've learned loads.

iDebate: What's been your biggest surprise coming to the Forum?
Frank: I'm learning better how to coach for a prepared motion. We were a little under-prepared for KPDC.
Sam: To say the least.
Zeno: We had no idea what we were doing with the preparation.
Frank: Next year we'd think about things like definitions and criteria more clearly, and then that opens the door to better research.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Youth Leadership Summit brings young climate change leaders together in New York

The United Nations Foundation, in partnership with IDEA, held the second annual Youth Leadership Summit from July 16th to 18th in New York city. The UN Youth Leadership Summit is the culmination of the year-long Global Debates. Young people from all over the world hold debates on the same topic and then complete other projects, such as creating climate change websites, press releases, and service projects, to earn points. The top 6 foreign schools and top 10 U.S. schools won trips to New York City for three full days of knowledge exchange, skill-building, and community action training and service.

This year’s Youth Leadership Summit brought together high school students and teachers from Michigan, Texas, California, Mississippi, Utah, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Moldova, Bulgaria, Mongolia, Korea, and Malaysia.

On the first day of the Summit, students and teachers convened together in the UN’s Trusteeship Council Room, where they were addressed by Gillian Sorensen and Janos Pazstor. Gillian Sorensen, Senior Advisor for the United Nations Foundation, gave the welcome address and discussed the structure of the United Nations. After a great question and answer session, Director of the Secretary-General's Climate Change Support Team Janos Pazstor talked about the United Nations' actions in combating climate change. Following the lectures, students gathered together to display their service projects and conduct a networking session with each other as well as United Nations officials. The day ended with group tours of the United Nations building.

On July 17th, students and teachers got up bright and early for separate action-based workshops. Students headed to the Ford Foundation where they met with representatives from, who conducted large and small group workshops on grassroots activism, campaigning strategies and online outreach. Meanwhile, teachers gathered at UNICEF for a workshop with United Nations Association representatives to discuss ways to bring global issues to the classroom.

Youth leaders work to improve Highbridge Park during the 2009 Youth Leadership Summit.

On the final day of the Youth Leadership Summit, participants went to Highbridge Park and mulched, weeded and painted for a few hours, while learning about the history and importance of urban park spaces. Later that night, everyone enjoyed a harbor cruise and was recognized during the awards ceremony. The 2009 Youth Leadership was a terrific success! The UN Foundation and IDEA are both looking forward to providing another beneficial experience to students and teachers from across the globe in 2010!
To register for the fall 2009 and spring 2010 Global Debates, visit

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Youth Forum 2009: A first-time perspective

Participants of the Youth Leadership Program with Bosnia and Herzegovina enjoy breakfast with students from Oregon, US

Jahorina Mountain, Bosnia and Herzegovina --
It's difficult to know what to expect from the Youth Forum when you a) know there isn't a gathering quite like it; b) are new to debate; and c) don't meet kids from around the world every day.

It helped that I accompanied the enthusiastic team from Willamette Academy, which is a college access program at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, US (also home to IDEA-US). These bright students were well aware that an incredible experience lay ahead of them as we arrived at the airport for our first leg of the journey.

Andrea Alaniz said "I'm so excited!" once an hour. Her teammates Devon Cardoza and Shamir Cervantes insisted they were calm and collected, though Devon blogged from every airport hotspot along the way. From the San Francisco airport: “I would say that I can't believe this happening, but I can, seeing as I have made it this far.”All three kids marveled at the size of the plane we would take from San Francisco to Munich. It would be Devon's first time on a plane.

As soon as we arrived at the Hotel Bistrica on Jahorina Mountain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Andrea befriended everyone and Shamir and Devon found the pool table. Our three flights and 32 hours of travel hadn't slowed them down.

On the following day, bright and early, the team prepared for their tournament while I learned to judge the Karl Popper format, an excellent format for a beginner like myself; applying the basic rules and common sense allows even a novice to judge effectively. But shadow judging over the next few days proved that it is another thing to explain your decision and provide helpful feedback, a difficulty Bosnian teacher and debate newbie Vanja Kuruzovic seconded.

The Forum is a small world in itself. Vanja was part of the month-long 2009 IDEA Youth Leadership and Professional Development Program with Bosnia and Herzegovina (learn more), which brought 18 young leaders and three teachers to Oregon, US, to learn about debate, active citizenship and American democracy. 10 of the 18 students also joined Vanja here at the Youth Forum. In fact, student Zvjezdana Markovic won the Mixed Team Tournament along with her teammates, whom she'd just met (congratulations!). Andrea, Devon and Shamir had met the three teachers and 18 students during their visit to Oregon, and in Bosnia they picked up where they left off, gathering for meals and breaks.

The British delegation encouraged visitors to try the "love it or hate it" Marmite. I didn't love it.

I spent my last night of the Youth Forum at the Cultural Expo. All participants were asked to bring interesting items to share at their national table. Many brought food. To name a few, the brave sampled Kazakhstani horse meat, Twinkies from the US, Mexican spicy chicken-shaped candies, and British Marmite (a pungent, condensed vegetable spread).

The evening evolved into a dance party, the music shifting genres from Middle Eastern to American country. I was moved by the mingling of 30 distinctly diverse cultures before my eyes.

My final event at the Youth Forum was the Karl Popper Debate Championship. All 300 of us students, coaches and trainers climbed into buses for the trip from Jahorina Mountain to the parliament building in Sarajevo. IDEA's Forum partner this year was the Center for Cultivating Dialogue, which has a large presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina with its own televised debate competitions and news broadcasts. The televised championship began with a speech by the president of Bosnia and Herzegovina, random dancing, and impressive fanfare.

Team USA Unicorns, Karl Popper Debate champions (from left) coach Jesse Towsen, Cara Eckholm, Isable Patkowski, and Toader Mateoc

What an incredible championship debate! Both teams were excellent, though the winner was clear. USA team "Unicorns" had team Korea running in circles in cross. Watch video here. It couldn't have been a better example of the mechanics of the format.

I left the Youth Forum reluctantly, knowing I would miss a week and a half of workshops, tournaments and festivals, which would continue to bring participants closer together by way of varying — and surprisingly similar — perspectives and experiences.

The IDEA Youth Forum is a two-week summer event aimed at bringing 200 high school students and their teachers together to attend debate training sessions and to engage in discussions on current issues. The 2010 Forum will happen in the Netherlands. To find out more, visit the site.
Crystal Jeffers, Communication Director, IDEA at Willamette University-US

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Training of Trainers in Macedonia

Veronika Vlckova and Matej Kurian will lead the Training of Trainers in Macedonia from August 14-17, 2009. The individuals identified to play a key role in training for the Youth Education Forum, our Macedonian member NGO, will receive additional workshops in training and debate instruction. At the Summer Camp that follows the training, the trainers will then design and facilitate workshops in which to practice their newly acquired skills. The best of these individuals will be awarded national trainer accreditation.

Youth Forum closing ceremony announces the big winners!

The Youth Forum closing ceremony took place on August 4, 2009. Those awarded at the final ceremony were not only those who won debate tournaments, but individuals who showed spirit and enthusiasm were also recognized. Here are the results from the 2009 Youth Forum:

Coach Spirit Award: Enas Al-Said (Jordan)

Special Recognition Award: Frank Hardee (United Kingdom)
For enthusiasm and contributions to the Coaches and Judges Track

Special Recognition Award: Adam Chrupczak (Poland)
For enthusiasm and contributions to the International New Debaters Track

Special Recognition Award: Valeryia Yussupova (Kazakhstan)
For enthusiasm and effort in the English as a Foreign Language Track

British Parliamentary Track Winners: Sten Andreas Ehrlich and Paul-Matis Tampuu (Estonia)
Top 3 Speakers:
Jan Buza (Slovakia)
Sten Andreas Ehrlich (Estonia)
Paul-Matis Tampuu (Estonia)

Mixed Team Finals Winners: Isabel Patkowski (USA), Zvjezdana Markovic (Bosnia) and Assel Baimukhametova (Kazakhstan)
Top 3 Speakers:
Isabel Patkowski (USA)
Toader Mateoc (USA
Cara Eckholm (USA)

Mixed Team Tournament winners announced, Youth Forum wraps up

Team “UBC” won the Youth Forum's Mixed Team Tournament today in a 6 to 1 decision. The motion was, “A just society prioritizes rehabilitation over retribution in its juvenile justice system.”

“UBC” team, negative, champions: Isabel Patkowski, Zvijezdana Markovic, Assel Baimukhametova

“Hamburger Eating Horse” team, affirmative, runners up: Nauryzbay Auezov, Vlad Bocioca, Cara Eckholm

Congratulations to this year’s MTT champions, and many thanks to every debater in the tournament!

Right now, Forum participants are enjoying the Final Countdown Party, the culminating event.
For videos, updates and feeds, visit the Youth Forum website.

See you next year at IDEA Youth Forum 2010 in Netherlands!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Climate advocates make their presence on Google Earth

The participants of the 2009 Climate Advocacy Institute, today’s youth advocates against climate change, shared their photos and stories on Google Earth as part of their final project in the New Media track of the Institute.

Learn more about these amazing youth leaders by visiting Google Earth and searching for “Climate Advocacy Institute.”

This year’s institute focused on spreading the message of global climate change. To learn more about this issue, students participated in one of these three core tracks: British Parliamentary Debate and Argumentation, Journalism and New Media for Advocacy, and Performance and Art Advocacy.

The Climate Advocacy Institute is an initiative of the International Debate Education Association, the Open Society Institute, and Bloomfield College in partnership with IndyAct and Tactical Tech. The three-week Institute takes place every late June/early July, and gathers high school and college students and teachers in an effort to equip future leaders with the advocacy skills necessary to combat climate change in their communities.

For more information about the 2009 Institute, please go to

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Debate and win $10 000 Grand Prize. Register your team today!

Looking to test your debate skills against the world’s best?

The International Public Policy ForumThe International Public Policy Forum (IPPF) is the only contest that gives high school students the opportunity to participate in written and oral debates on issues of public policy. This contest is open to schools across the world free of charge.

High school teams from all over the globe are invited to participate, with the top eight teams winning an all-expense-paid trip to the IPPF Finals in New York City, April 16-18, 2010! More than $30,000 in prize money is available—including a $10,000 Grand Prize. Register your team today!

For more information on the 2009-2010 IPPF, visit:

A Universal Debate Competition

The IPPF welcomes debaters from around the world – and from a wide spectrum of debate and forensic events. Every debater is invited to participate in the IPPF. The 2009-10 topic is, “Resolved: The United Nations should substantially increase humanitarian assistance for persons living in poverty.”
To participate, schools must submit a 2,800 word qualifying essay (affirmative or negative) on the topic. The top 32 teams advance. For more information on the 2009-2010 IPPF, visit: