About the Team
To use debate to teach effective decision making in a multicultural society.
What is effective decision making in a multicultural society?
It is making decisions that reflect an understanding of and sensitivity to perspectives formed through many different styles, cultures, and ideas in order to craft solutions that create the least harms to the most people.
How does debate teach effective decision making in a multicultural society?
Debate teaches students to develop arguments that encompass the needs and experiences of diverse communities and to dismantle approaches that perpetuate power and privilege, both within debate culture and larger society. The University of Louisville Debate Team does this by teaching students to utilize critical, inclusive thinking skills and instinctive listening to present strong arguments that challenge hegemonic methods and reasoning.
Why is debate a beneficial tool for a multicultural society?
Debate is a microcosm of the larger society. As an extracurricular activity, it produces a large number of future decision makers—politicians, lawyers, leaders of industry—who will enact the laws and policies that govern how we live our lives. Debate can provide these future leaders with important training in how to be sensitive to the perspectives of others. Through debate, future leaders can learn to push beyond the confines of their own social location to craft solutions to social problems for people from many different backgrounds.
Debate can be an unparalleled educational activity for developing critical thinking skills, one where undergraduate students engage in graduate level scholarship through research, speechwriting, discussions, and the development of argument strategies. The process of engaging the social issues addressed by each year’s topic reflects several elements of thought outlined by Dr. Richard Paul and Dr. Linda Elder in “The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools”, including gathering information, “unpacking” complex concepts, making inferences, and drawing conclusions. Arguments can engage the topic through a variety of disciplinary approaches while still being precise and relevant to the underlying issue. Solutions must be logical and well supported with evidence.
The University of Louisville Debate Team takes critical thinking even further by expecting our debaters to develop arguments and solutions that have a purpose, question both their own assumptions and those of others, consider multiple points of view and anticipate the implications of their plans for people at all standpoints in society. The argument strategy employed by the squad demands the same higher order thinking from the entire community by calling for a method of evaluation that respects diverse viewpoints and styles of engagement.
What type of citizens are we developing?
The training our debaters receive in our program is evident in the career paths they pursue. Examples include teachers in low-income schools, Urban Debate League coaches and administrators, college professors exploring the ways in which diverse cultures respond to social issues, public defenders and legal aid attorneys, social workers, and as journalists focusing on stories that expose systems of oppressions. They approach decision making through a lens of inclusivity that seeks to solve problems critically, with compassion and concern for how their decisions impact those outside their realm of experience.