Asia Debate Event Draws Year to a Close

Members of The Claremont Colleges Debate Union are participating in the International Debate Education Association and Jiaotong University event, a debate competition and workshop series in China, through May 31.

This is the third year that debaters have participated in the China exchange program and tournament. Students placed among the top-five teams in previous competitions. With more than 200 debate teams registered for the competition, it is one of the largest invitational debate contests sponsored in Asia.

Colin McDonell ’08, Charles Sprague ’10, and Candace Williams ’08, as well as Kari Wohlschlegel, Pomona College junior, will lead seminars on argumentation and refutation, engage university faculty and students in roundtable discussions on public policy, and participate in an intercollegiate debate tournament during the tour. Events are scheduled in Shanghai, Xi’an, and Beijing.

Debate Union Director John Meany says the China debate tour provides students an opportunity to experience rigorous international debate competition, featuring undergraduate and graduate school contestants, while engaging in a meaningful social, educational, and cultural exchange.

As the capstone event for 2006-2007 debate competition, “The students have trained for this opportunity through participation at debate competitions in the United States and abroad,” Meany says, including the World Universities Debating Championship, hosted by the University of British Columbia, the London School of Economics Invitational, and the 2007 National Round Robin, sponsored by Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

In addition to the debate contest and academic conference in Asia, participating students will tour gardens and museums in Shanghai and Suzhou, travel to the Terra Cotta Warrior Museum in Xi’an, and visit the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, and Temple of Heaven during the tour’s concluding week in Beijing. Cultural performances and professional meetings with university faculty are included in each of the city stays.

The trip is funded by the Debate Union, with additional assistance from the Dean of Students Office and the Kravis Leadership Institute.

“Cultural and educational exchanges, featuring opportunities for serious debate competition, new and challenging perspectives on public policy issues, and beyond the classroom’ learning, are increasingly important elements of Debate Union programming,” Meany says.

In addition to the China tour, Meany says debaters have participated, over the past two years, in international exchanges on campus and abroad with faculty and students from Korea, Germany, Jordan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Slovenia, and Estonia.