National Debate Project The Debate Center

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National Debate Project

The Debate Center

The purpose of the Debate Center is to fill in the gaps of high school debate training in the metro-Atlanta area and the state of Georgia more broadly. In the process the Debate Center encourages learning related to skills necessary for success in a college environment. Georgia State’s partners in the Debate Center include Emory University and selected debate coaches currently active in the Atlanta Public School system.

Program Features

Debate Training: Every Wednesday from 5 pm to 8 pm, intercollegiate debaters serve as coaches for novice, junior varsity, and varsity-level high school debaters. Formats include lectures, practice debates with critiques, and argument brainstorming sessions. Students from established, developing, and nascent programs are welcome and have easy Marta access to the instruction.

Teacher Training: Each Wednesday from 5 pm to 8 pm, university faculty and staff, as well as selected high school coaches, serve as mentors for new debate coaches or for coaches wishing to improve their skills. Team management, budgeting, availability of educational resources, etc. are discussed.

On-line Research Training: Every Wednesday from 5 pm to 8 pm, intercollegiate debaters train interested center visitors about researching on the internet. Participants are introduced to a wide variety of sites, offered evaluative standards for judging internet venues, and trained on efficient means of “surfing the net.”

College Bridge Programming: Twice quarterly, the Debate Center offers workshops on college bridge training. Topics include downloading college applications, strategizing how to respond to college essays, financial assistance, college deadlines, etc.

One-Day Workshops: Attended by students throughout Georgia, the one-day workshops introduce the new resolution that will serve as the topic for debate throughout the academic year. The workshop includes lectures on the topic, demonstration debates, and evidence packets related to the new topic for each student who attends.

Serving the Community

*During the 2007-2008, the Debate Center had more than 1000 visits from students who attended Grady High School, Benjamin Mayes High School, North Atlanta High School, Southside High School, Brown Middle School, Carver-Early College High School, Douglass High School, Therrell High School, Stephenson High School, Southwest Dekalb High School, Washington High School, and Druid Hills High School.

·In 2005-2006, the popularity of the Debate Center has expanded to more than 200 visitors every week.

·Over the past five years, 1500 students from 81 high schools throughout the State of Georgia have attended the one-day workshops.

Middle School Initiative: The Computer Assisted Debate Project

..........The purpose of the Computer Assisted Debate (CAD) Project is to provide a challenging and engaging after-school debate experience for seriously at-risk middle school children that reside in Atlanta Housing Association (AHA) communities. Our community partners in the CAD program include the Atlanta Housing Authority, the Atlanta Public School System, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro-Atlanta, Techbridge, and Emory University.

Program Features

Summer Institute: a two-week, 9 am-5 pm, summer institute designed to provide intensive training in debate fundamentals and assess each student for reading level, oral communication skill, and willingness to communicate. The institute is free to all middle school children living in targeted AHA communities and is staffed by a diverse pool of faculty and college students from around the country.

After School Program: a two-day per week after-school program, 4:00 pm-6:00 pm running from August to May where university students and faculty provide in-school training related to persuasive speaking, computer research, argument & evidence evaluation, and cross-examination skills.

Debate Tournaments: run monthly, these competitions allows the CAD students to compete against approximately 200 middle school children from metro-Atlanta. The tournaments are held at various schools, and the CAD students are bused to the various locations for four rounds of competition. Individual and team medals are awarded to novice, junior varsity, and varsity debaters.

Participating Schools:

Benjamin S. Carson Honors Preparatory School

Harper Archer Middle School

Carver Middle School

Awards and Recognition:

*Selected by the White House to be its 2005 signature school program for its Helping America’s Youth Initiative.

*President’s Award from the Atlanta Housing Authority for outstanding service to youth

*Currently being modeled as a start-up program in Baltimore, MD, Miami, FL, and Nashville, TN

*National Award for Higher Education and Community Partnerships Finalist

*Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Partnership Foundation


If debating is a way to improve inner city schools, it’s only reaching a small number of students.  One answer is to introduce it into every classroom so kids would debate the pros and cons of a piece of literature, or a scientific theory…[a] vehicle to refocus their energy from destructive to constructive.”

Angelo Brooks, CBS 60 Minutes, June 8, 2003


The goal of Debate Across the Curriculum (DAC) is to provide the benefits of debate to a broader base of students than those interested in competing on their debate team. DAC brings the educational tool of debate into the classroom, whether in science, music & art, math, social studies, humanities, or any other academic field.  All academic disciplines have theories or paradigms that are open to debate, making them fertile grounds for active student learning.

While a history class might debate the causes of the Civil War, an art class might debate the aesthetic effects of particular color selections. Science classes might examine the influence of environmental factors on the spread of asthma, while English courses might debate the role of a character or theme in a novel.

DAC presents debate as a means that teachers of all subjects can use to better involve their students in learning.  Debate’s success at improving research skills, analytical thinking, organization, and oral presentation are all factors that can improve student performance in all classrooms.  Debate requires the students to examine the material at a deeper level, given the anticipation that rather than simply parrot back information, students will actually have to defend the stance they take on class material.

Program Implementation

The faculty and staff of the National Debate Project teach workshops to principals and teachers to demonstrate how to implement Debate Across the Curriculum.  The workshops are hands-on in the sense that they have the participants experience debates in an effort to have them understand the expectations and anxieties that the students may feel in such a program. 

The National Debate Project has conducted Debate Across the Curriculum training for the teachers and/or principals of Southside High School , Harper Archer Middle School , Dekalb County Humanities programs (English, Music, Political Science, etc.), Miami Dade County , Nashville , TN School District , and Providence , RI School District .

Teaching and Learning

National Debate Project Capacity Building Institute for Administrators and Teachers

The NDP offers training for interested program administrators, teachers, and coaches in its Capacity Building Institute held each summer in one week, and more intensive two week summer residential and commuter programs. Housed on the Emory University campus, the program features faculty and staff from Georgia State, Emory, Tennessee State and other seasoned university consultants from the urban debate network. The institute provides training in argumentation, computer research, oral communication, debate across the curriculum, tournament and league administration, and assessment, for both new and experienced league leaders. A practicum for participants with urban debate students engaged in their own training programs allows teachers and administrators to work in an active learning environment. Held in summer 2009 (specific dates forthcoming) one fee covers materials, instruction, housing, meal plan, and the practicum program. Graduate academic credit is also available for the training program through either Georgia State or Emory.

National Debate Project Capacity Building Consultation Services

The NDP provides on-going consultation services for interested program administrators, teachers, and coaches. Consultants operate on-site, or bring interested participants for work in the various programs operating in Atlanta for hands-on training. Services include close advising and training for tournament tabulations, school system relations, community partner development, grant solicitation, assessment protocol development and partnership, debate across the curriculum training for entire secondary school faculties, after school program templates, and other aspects of league advancement. An individualized plan can be developed in consultation with appropriate local actors to maximize the success of a particular urban education initiative.

International Reach

Internationally NDP consultants have conducted debate across the curriculum

trainings at the Korean Development Institute Graduate School for Public Policy and Business Management, the Graduate Division of International Studies, Ewha University, Seoul, and for the Korean Debate Association at Kyung Hee University.

national network of debate communities




ALOUD engages local public/private partnerships that include a university, a school district, and individuals with proven expertise in debate, assessment and at-risk populations to form debate initiatives and lay the groundwork for student participation. These partnerships recruit students trapped in poverty, relegated to special education classes, involved in gangs, with low self-esteem and even lower GPAs to form top-notch programs that replicate successes elsewhere. We work closely with these partners to determine their needs and then customize a program that meets those needs. 


Featuring a team with over a century of debate experience and a record of achievement in establishing effective debate programs, ALOUD partners act as technical assistance consultants identifying external assets and maintaining quality assurance.   ALOUD’s guiding principles are coupled with proven debate support systems that raise academic achievement to the next level.   By helping children achieve academic and social proficiency during their middle and high school years, ALOUD is inspiring the next generation of great teachers, doctors, lawyers, activists, and community leaders.


Colleges, religious institutions, community-based organizations, school districts, corporations, and government agencies want to deliver their message in innovative ways and upgrade the communication and analytical skills of their employees and students.   An organization grounded with a vision of what debate can be is best suited to serve these interests. ALOUD’s model positions debate as an instrument of understanding that builds civic discourse in diverse sectors and captures the imagination of individuals and groups who are excited by what it can do for a young person.

This is our message to urban students:

2007 Associated Leaders of Urban Debate
330 West 42nd Street Suite 2420
New York, NY 10036
(Tel) 1-866-4DEBATE, (fax) 212-471-8664

Urban Debaters Shine at the 2009 Chase Urban Debate National Championship

The NAUDL is proud to have hosted the best of urban debate during the second annual Chase Urban Debate National Championship. Congratulations to all the teachers, urban debate advocates, and of course, the students - tomorrow's future leaders - for making the weekend one to remember.

See the results, news, photos, and more >>

Supporters of Urban Debate Gather for the 2009 NAUDL Annual Dinner

The huge success of the NAUDL's 2009 Annual Dinner shows the strength of urban debate all across the country. We thank the over 300 stakeholders of urban debate who attended to help support more urban debate opportunties for more students everywhere.


Former Debater Nominated to be Supreme Court Justice

The announcement that Judge Sonia Sotomayor has been nominated to succeed David H. Souter as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States is one example of the many success stories that debate has helped to make possible.

Read about Judge Sotomayor and debate here.

Urban School Districts Rally Support for Debate

School system investment and ownership is critical to both the sustainability and the programmatic quality of Urban Debate Leagues. Investment by school system leaders provides the institutional stability needed for private sector stakeholders to come on board. Fortunately, each of the UDLs in the NAUDL’s Expansion Plan enjoys strong support from local school systems, even in a tough budget year, and are well on their way to becoming powerful debate programs.


James R. Roland Joins the NAUDL Board of Directors

We are excited to announce that James R. Roland has joined the Board of Directors of the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues. Mr. Roland is the Director of Community Partnerships and Assistant Director of Debate at Emory University and the Director of Curriculum and Programs for the National Debate Project. In these roles, he supports the Atlanta, Miami-Dade, and Milwaukee Urban Debate Leagues. Mr. Roland directs and is the principal architect of the Computer Assisted Debate Program, which has been recognized as a Signature Program of the White House's Saving America's Youth Initiative and the Jimmy Carter Service Award. He has also served as Director of the Debate Center at Georgia State University. Please join us in welcoming Mr. Roland to our Board.

Former Debaters Galvanize Support for Urban Debate

Tough economic times call for extraordinary measures. Urban Debate Leagues around the country are already accustomed to producing breakthrough results on a shoe-string. With the full repercussions of the unfolding economic downturn unclear, however, many former debaters are stepping up to broaden the base of support and secure the investment of area supporters and stakeholders.

Find out what's going on in your city >>

Urban Debate Alumnus Spotlight: Marcus Leach

You may have heard of Marcus Leach from Joe Miller’s book Cross-X, which follows the personal struggles and victories of Marcus and other urban debaters in Kansas City, Missouri. The NAUDL’s Holly Reiss tried to track down Marcus for an interview and found him in Shanghai, China—taking a year off from Howard Law School to teach English and learn about international trade. Marcus credits debate for his success, saying, “You and I both know where I’d be without debate, and it wouldn’t be here.”


New League Directors Hit the Ground Running

The NAUDL welcomes new UDL Directors in the Bay Area, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Memphis, and St. Louis, and wishes them luck in the coming year and beyond. All the new League Directors convened a conference in Chicago on September 11-12 to address such varied issues as the logistics of hosting a debate tournament; publicity, development, and advocacy; and the socioeconomic complexities of building an Urban Debate League.

Learn a little more about the new Directors here >>

NAUDL Argument and Research Kit
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