THE CLAREMONT COLLEGES DEBATE UNION (CCDU), a 5-C program centered at Claremont McKenna College; it is among the largest and most successful college debating societies in the nation. The Debate Union offers three major debate and communication programs – intercollegiate competitive debating, professional communication training and events, and educational outreach. Programming is national and international. Students may participate in any or all programming.

Any undergraduate of the Claremont Colleges is eligible to participate in sponsored activities. No previous experienced is required – generally, about half of CCDU members have no prior speech or debate training. There is substantial staff and peer training available for all CCDU members.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, nearly all initial 2021-22 events will be conducted online.


The CCDU participates in national and international debate competition in the World Universities Debating Championship (WUDC) format, also known as the British Parliamentary (BP) debate format. It is the most popular and among the more rigorous college debate models extant. The CCDU attends 30 or more tournaments each year. CCDU teams have won 5 national championships (varied formats) and placed second five times, ranked in the nation’s top ten in 24 of the past 29 years, and received many, many hundreds of team and individual awards at major national and international competitions. Students have won major awards at US national debate championships in the BP format, including first place in 2010 and second place in 2008. The CCDU established the BP US national debate championship, now the largest college championship debate event.

In addition to WUDC events, the Debate Union attends specialized competitions in select other formats, including Social Justice Debates, Lafayette Debates, International Humanitarian Law Debates, Society of Professional Journalists Debates, and Public Debate Program Debates. In 2021-22, the CCDU will participate in 8-10 tournaments in these additional formats.


The Debate Union has an unparalleled historical commitment promoting public debate and discussion on matters of controversy and concern. The CCDU sponsors scores of campus and community events each year, including debates, lectures, discussion panels, academic conferences, town hall meetings, broadcast productions, advocacy training seminars, international student/faculty exchanges, poetry slams, and other national and international community, interscholastic, and intercollegiate events. The Debate Union has designed and moderated candidate electoral discussions and debates in Southern California communities and provided training and support for campus public policy debates. The CCDU has received national awards from debate organizations and non-profit groups for its public debate and discussion activities. Student papers have been accepted for argumentation, education, democracy promotion, development studies, neuroscience, mathematics, security studies, and political science conferences in Asia, Europe, and the United States. Students have participated in public events, academic conferences, and workshops in Croatia, Slovakia, Korea, the United Kingdom, Uganda, China, Slovenia, Italy, Turkey, Nigeria, Germany, the Czech Republic, Tanzania, Hungary, Qatar, Peru, Russia, and the US. The CCDU held a 2016 Conference on Nuclear Policy; it will host a Conference on Electoral Reform in Spring 2022.
Among other 2021-22 events, the Debate Union will sponsor public affairs podcasts, a lecture series on legal practice and theory, a deliberative book club, an intra-collegiate public debate series – the Pentagonal Debates, a film club, and multiple civic/social engagement projects.



The Debate Union has extensive outreach programming and sponsors one of the nation’s largest class and contest debate and public speaking training programs for secondary school students – the Public Debate Program. Hundreds of thousands of middle and high school students, primarily representing socially and economically marginalized communities, receive instructional resources and participate in class and contest programs each year. The program operates throughout the US and in 37 other countries. College students produce text and video curricular materials, conduct educational research, direct instructional seminars for secondary school teachers and students, manage tournament operations, and judge at competitions. Public Debate Program development and event partners have included Asante Africa, English-Speaking Union of the United States, Tulane University Service Learning, NASA, and the Forum for African Women Educationalists. The Public Debate Program US middle school national debate championship is now the largest debate tournament competition in the country.

The CCDU supports additional educational outreach initiatives in the US and abroad, including leadership communication, photojournalism, healthy eating, and civic engagement projects. In 2021-22, the CCDU will launch a series of new events for students interested in extra-curricular activities directly promoting academic and career success.

Summer/Fall 2021 Contact

All listed times on this site are Pacific Time.

Zoom contact for all meetings:
Topic: CCDU Meetings – Summer/Fall 2021
Meeting ID: 873 673 7540
Passcode: CCDU2021

Congratulations, Lewis and Clark Debates!

Congratulations to Stelring Drummond and Grayson Shaw for their outstanding performance at the Debate e Union’s first 2021-22 competition, hosted online by Lewis and Clark College, October 9-10. They won the tournament, defeating teams from Vanderbilt and Willamette in the British Parliamentary (BP) final.

Maya Kurkhill and Jessy Nesbit tied for the most first place finishes in their debates but, unfortunately, narrowly missed qualifying for the semi-finals on speaker points. Two teams – Sumi Vora and Fio Wibawa and Kenny Le and Max McKnight – had fine performances in their first BP competition.

The Debate union is now preparing for upcoming BP events hosted by Loyola University – Chicago, Point Loma University, and Hobart and William Smith Colleges as well as the first in-person Social Justice Debates tournament for the year, sponsored by the University of Vermont.

Meetings/Practices for Weeks Oct 4/11/18

Here are the additions, updates for these weeks.

All practices and training are online, except as otherwise noted.

Meeting ID: 873 673 7540
Passcode: CCDU2021

Week of October 4
4 Practice Debate, BP, 3:00-4:45 PM
4 Practice Debate, BP, 4:45-6:30 PM
4 CCDU Admin – 6:30-7:15 PM, Procedures for Finding a Partner, Registering for an Event, Attending a Tournament, etc.
5 Practice Debate, BP, 8:15-10:00 PM
6 Instruction, BP, 3:00-3:45 PM – Refutation
6 Instruction, BP, 4:00-4:45 PM – Writing a Case
6 Practice Debate, BP, 4:45-6:30 PM
6 Practice Debate, BP, 6:30-8:15 PM
9 instruction/Research, 2:00-3:00 PM – Research Group for All
9 SJD instruction/Research, 3:00-4:00 PM – Research Group for those interested in 2021-22 Social Justice Debates on mandatory school desegregation
9 Instruction, BP, 4:00-4:45 PM – Writing a Case

Week of October 11
11 Practice Debate, BP, 4:45-6:30 PM
12 Practice Debate, BP, 8:15-10:00 PM
13 CCDU Admin – 3:30-4:00 PM, Procedures for Finding a Partner, Registering for an Event, Attending a Tournament, etc.
13 Instruction, BP, 4:00-4:45 PM – Writing a Case
13 Practice Debate, BP, 4:45-6:30 PM
13 Practice Debate, BP, 6:30-8:15 PM
13 Practice Debate, BP, 8:15-10:00 PM

Week of October 18
20 CCDU Admin – 3:30-4:00 PM, Procedures for Finding a Partner, Registering for an Event, Attending a Tournament, etc.
20 Instruction, BP, 4:00-4:45 PM – Writing a Case
20 Practice Debate, BP, 4:45-6:30 PM (in-person practice)
20 Practice Debate, BP, 6:30-8:15 PM (in-person practice)
20 Practice Debate, BP, 8:15-10:00 PM (in-person practice)
20 Practice Debate, SJD, 8:15-10:00 PM (in-person practice)
21 Practice Debate, BP, 4:45-6:30 PM (in-person practice)
21 Practice Debate, BP, 6:30-8:15 PM PM (in-person practice)
21 Research/Argumentation Meeting, SJD, 8:15-9:30 PM, Mandatory school desegregation

Debate Union Social Reception, Week of September 20

Come meet new and returning members of the Debate Union!

Event planning is underway – there will be a dessert reception and opportunity to meet other members, find prospective debate partners, learn about professional communication opportunities and outreach events from John Meany and CCDU interns.

The event will be held this week – Friday, September 24. 4:00-6:30 PM, mid-quad lawn by Crown Hall, CMC.

Debate Practice Times, Fall 2021

Although there are BP practices the week of September 20, the official start of formal practice at set times for the semester (times that should accommodate everyone’s schedule), begins the week of September 27. Those practices are at the following times:

Mondays, 3:00 PM and 4:45 PM
Tuesdays, 8:15 PM
Wednesdays, 4:45 PM and 6:30 PM

Practices for SJD events will be announced later this week. The official times next week may be the same as the scheduled times this week or 15 minutes later typo accommodate some later class periods.

You should have received a confirmation from Maya for your practice time. If you have not or have yet to schedule a practice time, please contact Maya at

New BP Tournament Listings

These are additions to the calendar. Most are available to all students. All except Point Loma University are online. Select events will only permit, at most, 1-2 teams from each institution. Tournaments available to all are marked. You may begin registering for tournaments at any time. Prior to registration, yo0u must complete requested membership information in the CCDU 2021-22 roster. Please send an email to any intern to add your name to request registration for a tournament. You will receive a reply about your ability to attend your requested events. The intern addresses are Maya Kurkhill,, Michelle Ramirez,, and Helena Ong,

New BP Tournaments, v. September 12, 2021
Tournaments available to all are noted in bold.

9-10 Lewis and Clark College
16-17 University of Toronto
23 Loyola-Chicago
23-24 Point Loma University, San Diego (in person, not open to all but will be available to a large number of teams)
5-7 Hobart and William Smith Colleges (may change the date from this weekend)
13-14 Linfield College
13-14 University of Cambridge
4-5 Seattle University
29-30 Vanderbilt (prefer in-person, if possible; not open to all but will be available to a large number of teams, even as an in-person event)

Social Justice Debates Topic 2021-22

This year’s topic for Social Justice Debates is

The adoption of a mandatory racial desegregation policy for K-12 public schools is desirable.

The first tournament will be held online, Saturday-Sunday, October 2-3. There is a tentatively planned in-person tournament scheduled at the University of Vermont, Saturday-Sunday, November 6-7.

Although 2021-22 topic statement, format, and other support information is not yet available, here is the link to the 2021-21 information. The format and rules ought to be identical – the topic is different but the social justice foundation of each topic is likely to be quite similar, adapted only for the working of the topic. The link:

Topic and debate preparation will begin the week of September 13. The schedule for meetings, research, practices will be listed here during the September 10-12 weekend.


Send an email to John Meany, Director of Forensics, indicating interest. Please use “Join the CCDU” as the email subject heading.

Complete the member forms located at

Done. You are in. Welcome!



Zoom Link:
Topic: CCDU Meetings – Summer/Fall 2021
Meeting ID: 873 673 7540
Passcode: CCDU2021

There are regularly scheduled training sessions for intercollegiate debating in the British Parliamentary, Social Justice/Lafayette/International Humanitarian Law/Society of Professional Journalists, and Public Debate Program formats, professional communication events support including conference and presentation programming, FirstReporters!, and Civics in Action programs, and national and international educational debate outreach in the Public Debate Program and World Schools formats. National and international opportunities are scheduled throughout the year, including summer and break events. The Debate Union pays all major costs of participation.

Debate Union Office – Bauer South 21, CMC
John Meany, Director of Forensics, Office Hours – Tu/Wed, 12-2 PM, in-person and online, by appointment

Summer/Fall 2021 Contact

All listed times on this site are Pacific Time.

Zoom contact for all meetings:
Topic: CCDU Meetings – Summer/Fall 2021
Meeting ID: 873 673 7540
Passcode: CCDU2021

There are 3 tracks to help guide your decisions about events to attend:
Track A – For those new to debating
Track B – For those experienced in other debate formats and new to the BP and SJD formats
Track C – For returning members of the Debate Union

Orientation/Information Sessions

Orientation/Information sessions for those unfamiliar with the Debate Union. Attend any of the following orientation/information sessions to learn about opportunities for intercollegiate debating, professional communication, educational outreach, and participating for course credit:

Friday, August 6, 7:00-7:45 PM (Track A, B)
Monday, August 9, 7:00-7:45 PM (Track A, B)
Sunday, August 15, 3:00-3:45 PM (Track A, B)
Tuesday, August 31, 8:00-8:45 PM (Track A, B)
Monday, September 6, 2:00-2:45 PM (Track A, B)
Monday, September 20, 7:00-7:45 PM (Track A, B)

Thursday, September 23, 8:00-8:45 PM (Track A, B)
Monday, September 27, 7:00-7:45 PM (Track A, B)

Competitive Debate Format Training – BP format/Debate Demonstration

Learn the British Parliamentary impromptu debate format (majority of debate opportunities are in this format):

August 9, 8:00-9:00 PM (Track B)
August 18, 8:00-9:00 PM (Track B)
Sunday, September 5, 4:00-5:00 PM (Track B)

August 11, 6:00-7:00 PM (Track A)
Sunday, September 5, 2:00-3:00 PM (Track A)

Thursday, September 23, 6:00-7:00 PM (Track A, B)
Monday, September 27, 7:45-8:45 PM (Track A, B)

Demonstration Debate
August 11, 7:00-7:45 PM (Track A, B)
Format demo – Topic: This House believes that US military withdrawal from Afghanistan does more harm than good.
Attend any practice after September 1 for a debate demonstration

Debate Instruction Workshops (BP)

Tuesday, September 7, 7:00-7:55 PM (Track A, B) – Public Speaking for Debate, Argumentation (ARESR), Topic Categorization and Interpretation
Monday, September 13, 6:00-6:55 PM (Track A, B) – Public Speaking for Debate, Argumentation (ARESR), Topic Categorization and Interpretation
Monday, September 13, 7:00-7:55 PM (Track A, B, C) – Counterplanning
Tuesday, September 21, 9:00-9:55 PM (Track A, B, C) – Public Speaking for Debate, Argumentation (ARESR), Topic Categorization and Interpretation
Thursday, September 23, 4:15-5:10 PM (Track A, B, C) – Counterplanning
Thursday, September 23, 5:15-6:00 PM (Track A, B, C) – Public Speaking for Debate, Argumentation (ARESR), Topic Categorization and Interpretation
Sunday, September 26, 2:00-2:55 PM (Track A, B, C) – Critiquing
Sunday, September 26, 3:00-3:55 PM (Track A, B, C) – Writing a Case
Sunday, September 26, 4:00-4:55 PM (Track A, B, C) – Counterplanning

Debate Practice (BP format)

All practices will use impromptu topics, although the difficulty of the motion will be set by the experience level of participants.
Register for a Fall 2021 practice debate slot with an email to Maya Kurkhill,

Practice Times; effective September 27 (please use prior announced times for this week). Practice is scheduled for 1:45 hours. Please be on time for sufficient time for the debate and comprehensive feedback.
Mondays, 3:00 PM and 4:45 PM
Tuesdays, 8:15 PM
Wednesdays, 4:45 PM and 6:30 PM

Sample motions for previous Fall 2021 practice debates
This House believes that reality television does more harm than good.
This House would substantially restrict First Amendment free speech.
This House would lower the voting age to 16.
This House would abolish the Olympic Games.
This House believes that it is unethical to have children.
This House believes that it is unethical to use Facebook.

Competitive Debate (SJD format)

Learn the Social Justice prepared topic debate format (8-12 tournaments annually in several aligned formats, including Social Justice Debates, Lafayette Debates, Society of Professional Journalists Debates,  International Humanitarian Law Debates, and other tournaments using the original and modified SJD format):

August 18, 7:00-8:00 PM (Track A, B, C)
Sunday, September 5, 3:00-4:00 PM (Track A, B, C)
Training for forthcoming SJD debating – TBD week of September 27

Debate Outreach – Judge Certification (PDP format)

Learn the Debate Union’s proprietary debate outreach format for middle schooling high school debating. Used nationally and internationally. Learn the format, 2021 rubric, and updated judging norms for in-person and online debating. All PDP judges must complete certification for eligibility for competitive judging. All Debate Union members interested in outreach support (workshops, summer instruction opportunities, etc. must satisfactorily complete certification).

Thursday, September 9, 6:00-7:15 PM

Online –
Please view the presentation on the PDP format, judge certification for the 2021 PDP championships, and download the accompanying documents on rules, rubrics, judging.

New to the Debate Union? What to Do Next!

For those new to the Debate Union and after attending an orientation/information session, here are some recommendations about how to get involved. Programming, including training, is rolling and there will be additional opportunities for training. Most upcoming events are not yet scheduled by other institutions and will be announced the first week of September.

Please complete roster information for the fall term. Here is the link:

Interested in Intercollegiate Debating?

Attend the format introductions for British Parliamentary (BP) debating and/or Social Justice Debate formats.

Attend a weekly practice. CCDU interns will contact members to schedule your semester practice time. In general, you will select a Tuesday or Wednesday evening time for practice. A practice is 2 hours for a debate and feedback.

Attend CCDU argumentation/instruction and research sessions, Scheduled periodically and repeated several times during a 2-week period. Sessions focus on speaker responsibilities, argumentation, case writing, public speaking for debate, counterplanning, critiquing, topic interpretation and categorization, and more…

Register to participate at debate tournaments. One may do so as an individual, with a team partner, or as a judge (training will provided and BP judges do not have to be highly experienced – can be new to the format).

Interested in Professional Communication Events?

Register to participate as a moderator or debate participant for one or more upcoming events There will be a training for moderators, as well as preparation sessions and practice for those participating in events beginning in mid-September.

Interested in Educational Outreach?

Attend a PDP judge certification session and tabulation administrator/tournament director session. Certified judges are eligible to judge at Public Debate Program competitions.


Thank you to members of the Debate Union and CCDU alumni for their outstanding instruction and administrative work during this summer’s Claremont Debate and Leadership Communication Institutes (CDLI). This year, there are 12 institute sessions and 4 tournaments, scheduled from June-September, for secondary school teachers and students. Programming included multiple teacher workshops, debate sessions for middle school and high school students, an academic scholars program for middle school students, and leadership communication training and an academic conference for high school students.

The final events for the summer include PDP online tournaments for middle school and high school summer students on the weekend of August 14-15 and Public Debate Program (PDP) California teacher and student workshop on September 11. In addition, high school students from the leadership program are invited to participate in a capstone project – a leadership initiative – at their school or in their community during the academic year. High school students may also attend a secondary school division of a Spring 2022 Conference on Electoral Reform.

CCDU members and alumni from CMC, Scripps, and Pitzer participated in Summer 2021 and included active CCDU members Maya Kurkhill (CMC ’23), Kayla Solomon (SCR ’24), Amari Huang (CMC ’23), Melanie Kallah (CMC’25), Ben Wasson (CMC’25), Sterling Drummond (PTZ’25), as well as former members Lauren Phillips (CMC ’13) and Pastor Arroyo (CMC ’20).



Edward Tufte, The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within
(2nd Edition, 32-page pamphlet, $7, paperback,


Edward Tufte, Visual and Statistical Thinking: Displays of Evidence for Making Decisions
(32-page pamphlet, $7, paperback,

Additional review and information on Tufte

Edward Tufte is an expert in the field of information design. A professor emeritus of political science, statistics, computer science, and art at Yale University, his texts offer a pointed criticism of popular methods of graphic illustrations (e.g., PowerPoint), as well as establish techniques for the effective use of statistical and related design. These texts will introduce readers to sophisticated approaches to data illustrations and design thinking.

Laurian Vega, ‘Tufte is Dead; Long Live Tufte’

Ann Jennings, ‘Jennings on Tufte, Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative’


Roland Barthes, Mythologies
(New edition, $10, paperback,

Additional review and information on Barthes and Mythologies

Roland Barthes, French social and literary critic, influenced the development of semiotics, structuralism, literary theory, communication, and post-structuralism. He taught philosophy and social/cultural criticism at a number of French universities. Barthes emphasized the active role of the reader in the ‘production’ of a text – as he noted in Image–Music–Text in 1977, “the death of the author is the birth of the reader.”

Andrew Robinson, ‘An A to Z of Theory Roland Barthes’s Mythologies: A Critical Theory of Myths’

Marco Roth, ‘Roland Barthes: Myths We Don’t Outgrow’

Michael Robbins, ‘Revisiting Roland Barthes’ Mythologies’


John McPhee, Draft No. 4 – On the Writing Process
($10, paperback,

Additional review and information on McPhee

John McPhee, professor of journalism at Princeton University, is an author of more than 25 books and scores of essays (he has been a staff writer for The New Yorker for more than five decades), as well as a pioneer of creative non-fiction. A 4-time nominee and 1999 winner for the Pulitzer Prize in General Non-fiction, his books include a wide range of subjects, from travel and biography to the environment, aeronautics, and sports. Draft No. 4 features McPhee’s analysis of the writing process.

Sam Anderson, ‘The Mind of John McPhee’

Tyler Malone, ‘John McPhee: Seven Ways of Looking at a Writer’