Congressional Debate Program (1 week only)

The BFI’s congressional debate program is an intensive, one-week program designed for students of all experience levels. The congressional debate program runs from July 9-16, 2017.

Curriculum Design | Research Driven Curriculum | Individual Practice | Advanced Skills Instruction | Courses | Schedule

Curriculum Design

The BFI curriculum in congressional debate is organized into novice and varsity “tracks” that provide students with sound training in the fundamentals of congressional debate. In addition, students will receive topical instruction targeted toward high school competition.

  • Novice Track – The “novice” track at the BFI includes both an intensive congressional debate lab where students focus on the basics of research, speech construction, parliamentary procedure, delivery and argumentation, as well as a broad range of intensive elective courses targeted at issues that consistently dominate contemporary political, social, and economic controversies in the United States and elsewhere. Elective courses focus on both domestic (subnational politics, courts and elections, entitlement programs, congressional politics, energy policy, national security, and environmental politics) and international issues (region-specific lectures, international organizations, and global issues & movements). Students will participate in elective lectures and discussion groups aimed at honing their analysis of these issues and developing the resource base with which students begin the competitive season.
  • Varsity Track – The “varsity” track at the BFI includes the same range of courses offered to novice participants, but features a more intensive focus on critiqued practice, advanced research skills, and innovative speaking strategies. As with the novice track, students will participate in elective courses that focus on both domestic (subnational politics, courts and elections, entitlement programs, congressional politics, energy policy, national security, and environmental politics) and international issues (region-specific lectures, international organizations, and global issues & movements). Likewise, varsity students will participate in elective lectures, discussion groups, and individualized research opportunities aimed at honing their analysis of these issues and developing the resource base with which they begin the competitive season. Please note: students who participate in the 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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Research-Driven Curriculum

The BFI believes that insightful analysis and sound argument are driven by cutting-edge research and intensive preparation. The BFI equips students with a range of foundational resources for each topic area addressed by our curriculum, develops students’ research skills through hands-on research labs, and offers students instruction in contemporary digital filing systems, e.g., Zotero, Dropbox, etc. Coupled with the expansive range of “starter” resources with which students will leave camp, this instruction provides a foundation for success throughout the competitive season.Back to the top.

Individualized Practice Opportunities

The BFI believes that each student achieves their maximum levels of learning and success through individualized instruction and critique. Several elements of our curriculum are designed to support students’ particular needs and strengths as a congressional debater. First, in addition to our low student-faculty ratio, participants in the BFI’s congressional debate program will participate in 10 or more critiqued practice sessions. Second, each day includes individualized research labs and office hours designed to help students access one-on-one training and feedback. 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.Back to the top.

Advanced Skills Instruction

The BFI is committed to providing every student with the training necessary to be effective and successful competitors. Students will receive lectures and instruction from innovative debate scholars, nationally-renowned forensics educators, award-winning teachers, and university faculty trained in communication studies. These lectures are designed to provide every student with an advanced, collegiate-level understanding of rhetoric, persuasion, and argumentation theory and practice.Back to the top.

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.
  • Congress Lab – provides instruction and practice in delivery (speaking with and without note cards, nonverbal communication, and rhetorical theory), arrangment and organization (evidence selection, effective use of evidence, argument construction, and basic speech structures), parliamentary procedure, and introductions and memorization (developing introductions, memorizing speeches, and effectively using preparation time).
  • Topic Lectures – Each lecture will focus on a topic of domestic (subnational politics, courts and elections, entitlement programs, congressional politics, energy policy, national security, and environmental politics) or international (region specific lectures, international organizations, and global issues & movements) significance.
  • Political Science—introduces students to political processes, institutions, and controversies that frame contemporary political debates.

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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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