The national champion debate society at the University of Utah will host summer camps July 9-22 for nearly 150 high school students from across the country. Along with faculty and staff from the U, members of the John R. Park Debate Society will help participants learn to become better debaters, critical thinkers and members of a global community. Many of the participants will conclude their experience in a full-day tournament on July 22.
“Our goal is to provide students with strategies that will prepare them for success, not only in competitive speech and debate, but also in their high-school and college careers,” said Michael Middleton, assistant professor of communication and director of the debate society housed in the College of Humanities. “As the most successful debate team in the state, we’re excited to help future collegiate debaters gain new skills and maybe welcome them to our team one day.”
During the camp, students will participate in instructional sessions, application labs and practice debates that focus on a range of competitive events offered at the high school level, including policy debate, Lincoln-Douglas debate, public forum debate, extemporaneous speaking and congressional debate. In general, topics focus on political science, economics, political philosophy, argumentation theory, research skills, public speaking skills and more.
Students will spend their days in elective courses, discussion groups, labs and one-on-one coaching sessions. Each evening, they will participate in one to two debate practice rounds, featuring constructive feedback from faculty, staff and guest judges with expertise in argumentation and debate. Students who attend and complete the curriculum at the camp will receive three hours of college credit from the U.
“Students really have the opportunity to tailor the camp to their own interests and individual needs,” Middleton said. “They can take classes in political philosophy, argumentation theory, economics, foreign affairs, domestic policy, rhetoric and persuasion, advanced speaking skills, critical theory, performance theory, and more. The coaches also work with each individual student to help them improve in their areas of interest,” added Middleton.
Throughout their time at the U, participants will be coached by some of the champion undergraduate debaters, faculty, staff from the U, as well as high school coaches from various states. The camp will end with a tournament on July 22 and topics, based on areas established by the National Speech and Debate Association, will include education reform, journalists’ right to protect confidential sources, and U.S. foreign policy toward South Korea.