Cross-Examination Debate Program

The Policy Debate program at the BFI is an intensive, two-week program designed for students of all experience levels. The cross-examination debate program runs from July 9-23, 2017 (One week option ends on July 16, 2017). 

Curriculum Design | Debate Skills | Topic Knowledge | Core Courses | Elective Courses | Sample Schedule

Curriculum Design

File Jul 17, 10 59 39 AMThe BFI aims to support both novice and veteran competitors through a curriculum focused on sound fundamentals of debate, while simultaneously offering specialized instruction in students’ areas of interest. At the BFI, students will participate in either the skills (novice) or research (varsity) “track.”

  • Skills/Novice Track—The BFI offers a specialized lab for students with little/no experience with policy debate. Our novice lab(s) provide a supportive environment that emphasizes the fundamentals of argumentation and debate. Our staff works closely with novice debaters to learn effective skills in research, argumentation, and delivery. In addition to this specialized instruction, novice students will be provided with the same comprehensive topic knowledge and focus on debate skills that is the Utah difference! 
  • Research/Varsity Track—The varsity track expands on the fundamentals focused on in the novice track by providing students with foundations in the traditions of critical and performance-oriented debate that will allow them to develop and execute innovative, critical debate arguments, as well as mobilize non-traditional forms of evidence and alternative modes of presentation to make effective arguments. This track features a heavy emphasis on research and case-writing, guided by experience lab instructors. Students to learn to effectively debate critical philosophy, performative arguments, framework, kritiks, and more. Instruction will also focus on “project” debate, narrative, performance strategies (e.g., culture jamming, irony, silence, hip-hop, etc.), and innovative policy debate techniques. Please note: students who participate in the research/varsity track should have no less than one year (six tournaments) of competition at the varsity level. 
  • Discussion Groups – In addition to labs and courses aimed at providing instruction tailored to students’ experience levels, students will participate in daily discussion groups that help them apply concepts taught in labs and other courses that are part of the BFI curriculum. These discussion groups are aimed at providing supplemental instruction targeted at the specific experience levels of students attending camp. Back to the top.

Focus on Debate Skills


All of our policy debate labs use the time tested methods of debates, drills, and do-overs to teach students the skills and habits of highly effective debaters. Policy debaters at the BFI will have approximately 15+ critiqued practice rounds in which staff provide structured, rigorous feedback. In addition to practice rounds, students will regularly deliver “do-overs,” during which students re-give and improve their speeches. Students will also do daily skill drills in lab to refine their communication and argument skills.  Back to the top.

Comprehensive Topic Knowledge

The BFI is committed to providing every student comprehensive and foundational knowledge about the 2017-2018 national debate topic. Students will be given lectures by innovative debate scholars, nationally-renowned forensics educators, award-winning teachers, and university faculty. These lectures are designed to provide students a solid foundation that will provide every student an advanced, college-level understanding of the national policy debate topic. Back to the top.

Core Courses

    • Elements of Effective Research—provides hands-on instruction in library research, electronic research, argument construction, and evaluating evidence.
    • Fundamentals of Argument—focuses on argument construction, analysis of evidence, refutation, and other fundamental argumentation skills.
    • Policy Lab—focuses on practical skills essential for debaters of all experience levels, including effective speaking (drills, judge adaptation, organization, delivery), effective flowing (shorthand, electronic flowing, flowing strategically), and cross-examination (effective questions, alternative uses of cross-examination, partner interaction).
    • Comprehensive Topic Lectures— provides every student with an advanced, college-level understanding of the national policy debate topic.

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Elective Courses

    • Critical Philosophy—provides students an advanced understanding of critical theory in debate.
    • Modern & Contemporary Philosophy—introduces students to philosophers and theories that are foundational to contemporary policy debate.
    • Political Science & Economy —introduces students to political processes, institutions, and controversies that frame the 2017-2018 policy debate topic.
    • Performance in Debate—exposes students to innovative ways of making argument and using nontraditional forms of evidence.
    • Special Topics—provides additional instruction in debate fundamentals (e.g., rebuttals and strategy) and expands on other elements of the BFI curriculum.

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Sample Schedule

Time Activity
8:00-8:45 Breakfast
8:45-9:00 Walk to Morning Assembly
9:00-9:30 Morning Assembly/Roll Call
9:30-11:00 Elective Courses
11:00-12:00 Discussion Groups
12:00-1:00 Lunch
1:00-4:00 Lab
4:00-6:00 Office Hours/Colloquium
6:00-7:00 Dinner
7:00-9:00 Rounds

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