Lincoln-Douglas Debate Program

The BFI’s Lincoln-Douglas debate program is an intensive, two-week program designed for students of all experience levels. The LD debate program runs from July 9-03, 2017 (One week option ends on July 16, 2017).

Curriculum Design | Student Centered Approach | Core Courses | Elective Courses | Sample Schedule

Curriculum Design

The BFI curriculum in Lincoln-Douglas debate has two “tracks” that provide students with sound training in the fundamentals of debating. In addition, students will receive topical instruction targeted toward the likely topics of the upcoming competitive season. To support these aims, the BFI offers students specialized instructions in the following areas:

  • Traditional/Novice Track – The BFI offers a specialized lab for students with little/no experience with Lincoln-Douglas debate. Our traditional/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. The novice track features lectures, guided research, and case construction that teach students the basics of effectively flowing arguments, choosing rebuttal strategies, identifying philosophical positions, and weighing voting issues. Instruction will focus specifically on value and criteria approaches to Lincoln-Douglas Debate. 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!
  • Progressive/Varsity Track – The varsity track focuses on advanced argumentation driven by cutting-edge research and intensive preparation. The BFI offers advanced lab(s) designed to provide every student with a highly developed, collegiate-level understanding of rhetoric, persuasion, and argumentation theory and practice. The advanced track features lectures, guided research, and case construction that teach students to effectively debate theoretical arguments, analyze critical and philosophical frameworks, and strategically approach unconventional debate performances.  This track will focus specifically on “progressive LD,” including a focus on critical debate, plan advocacies in Lincoln-Douglas Debate and other cutting edge competitive practices. Coupled with the expansive range of “starter” resources with which students will leave camp, the BFI provides the training necessary for success throughout the competitive season. Please note: students who participate in the progressive/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.

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Student Centered Approach

The BFI believes that each student achieves their maximum levels of learning and success through individualized instruction and critique.  As such, our innovative debate scholars, nationally-renowned forensics educators, award-winning teachers, and university faculty use time tested methods to teach students, such as a low student-faculty ratio, commitment to a comprehensive approach to the 2017-2018 topics, and 20 or more critiqued practice debates.  Coupled with speech re-gives, skills classes, and speaking drills integrated throughout the curriculum, we are confident that the BFI offers an unparalleled focus on applied learning as a means to competitive success.    

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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.
  • Lincoln-Douglas Lab—focuses on practical skills essential for debaters of all experience levels, including case-writing (affirmative and negative)m 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).

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Elective Courses

The BFI offers an expansive range of elective courses for students participating in Lincoln-Douglas debate program. Each elective course focuses on three aims: providing students with a basic set of foundational readings on each topic, offering instruction that helps students develop a college-level understanding of the topic areas addressed, and creating opportunities for students to test and practice using the content knowledge developed in these electives.  Electives include:

  • 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 Lincoln-Douglas Debate.
  • Political Science—introduces students to political processes, institutions, and controversies that frame contemporary debate topics.
  • Performance in Debate—exposes students to innovative ways of making arguments 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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