There has been considerable secondary school outreach activity throughout the summer.

Summer Debate and Leadership Communication Institutes
The Debate Union is hosting a series of middle school and high school debate and leadership communication workshops. Due to Covid-19, this year’s workshops are operating exclusively online, the first time that the CCDU’s summer conferences have been offered online. More than 200 students have registered so far for the summer programs.

Secondary School Outreach Expansion
The Debate Union is expanding its debate class and contest programming in Summer 2020. John Meany will lead workshops for more than 200 teachers in Arkansas, Massachusetts, and California in August. Direct mail recruiting is underway to add new schools to more than a dozen currently operating Public Debate Program leagues in Southern California, as well as for PDP leagues across the United States. The Debate Union is establishing new virtual debate leagues and in-class school public speaking and argumentation instruction, as well as inviting schools to participate in virtual competitions outside of their extant leagues. For example, the CCDU will continue to promote high school debating in English and Spanish throughout Panama, as it welcomes Panamanian schools to participate in online debate tournaments in the United States.

High School Outreach International Debate Success
Sierra Canyon School (SCS), a member of the HSPDP, won the London Online Debate Challenge in June 2020. Two SCS teams participated in the competition. The individual teams were ranked 2nd and 6th and their cumulative success led to the first place result. The tournament used the British Parliamentary debate format, typically used for college debating but infrequently available for high school competitions. It is an impromptu debate model, with debates organized after only 15 minutes of preparation time from the topic announcement to the start of the first speech of the debate. PDP middle schools and high schools will be able to participate in upcoming online debate tournaments in the UK and other countries. The CCDU will help organize 2020-21 HSPDP outreach online tournaments for international schools.

New PDP Website and Tab Software
The Public Debate Program will have a new, unified website for its network of schools participating in middle school debate, high school debate, international high school debate, leadership and civic engagement projects, as well as professional communication events. In addition, the CCDU is producing a next generation of proprietary software for tournament tabulation. The software will offer a more flexible and stable option for tournament administrators. Both website and software should be ready by September 1.

Congratulations to CCDU students winning fellowship awards this year!

Amanda Kandasamy CMC ’20, Fulbright Scholar (Indonesia)

Luke Radice CMC ’19, Fulbright Scholar (Germany)

Luke Radice CMC ’19, JET Program (Japan Exchange and Teaching)

Jessica Kim CMC ’20, JET Program (Japan Exchange and Teaching)

Presidential DebateWatches

The CCDU will host a series of Presidential DebateWatches, moderated discussions following each of the Fall 2020 Commission on Presidential Debates events.

 All debates start at 6:00 PM PST – discussion to follow
• Tuesday, September 29 (Presidential Debate)
• Wednesday, October 7 (Vice-Presidential Debate)
• Thursday, October 15 (Presidential Debate)

• Thursday, October 22 (Presidential Debate)

The Fall 2020 Internal Humanitarian Law topics are the following:

• It is unethical to deploy autonomous weapons systems.
• Abolish the International Criminal Court.

There is one tournament on this topic, hosted by the Claremont Colleges Debate Union. It is scheduled for Sunday, October 11.

The CCDU will host a college PDP championship, Saturday-Sunday, January 30-31, 2021. This is the second year of college-level PDP competition. École de Guerre, the French war college, was the 2019 tournament champion. The top-ranked US team (representing the second-place Claremont Colleges team) also won tickets to a Lupe Fiasco concert in Los Angeles. HSPDP high school teams may also participate in the event; there are separate awards for high school contestants.

The primary differences from other debate formats include team number and members (two 3-person teams), use of POIs and argumentative heckling, integration of pre-announced, research-based topics and impromptu topics, judge certification, and a comprehensive 100-point standards-based assessment rubric for individual speaker scores and awards.

Members of the Debate Union are eligible to participate in the PDP championship.

Thank you, 2020 CDLI Summer Interns

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. This year, there are 10 institute sessions and 4 tournaments, scheduled from June-September, for secondary school teachers and students. More than 250 individuals attended the online sessions. The final events for the summer include a Public Debate Program (PDP) California teacher workshop on August 22, a PDP Arkansas teacher workshop on August 28, and PDP online tournaments for enrolled middle school and high school summer students on the weekend of September 12-13.

The online program was smaller than the typical on campus programs and fewer CCDU internships were available this summer. CCDU members and alumni from CMC and Scripps participated in Summer 2020 and included Lauren Phillips (CMC ’13), Pastor Arroyo (CMC ’20), Ella Henry (SCR ’20), Amari Huang (CMC ’23), and Maya Kurkhill (CMC ’23).


Thank you, Panama Debate Workshop Staff

Led by Pastor Arroyo (CMC ’18), a Fulbright Scholar and English instructor at the University of David, high school teachers and students in Panama began training in PDP debating this year. Pastor sponsored workshops for hundreds of students in Spring 2019, leading to an English language debate competition in July.

CCDU members Trevor Christensen and Gonzalo Secaira traveled to Panama in August 2019 to assist in Spanish language workshops for more than 175 students and teachers. In September, the HSPDP-Panama hosted 5 high school Spanish language debate tournaments throughout the country, leading to a newly created Spanish-language national championship in November. The HSPDP-Panama champion and one other Panamanian team were selected to represent the country at the HSPDP Championship in April 2020. unfortunately, the pandemic interfered with the spring championship tournament. Panamanian schools are working with HSPDP schools for online debate opportunities for 2020-21.

THE CLAREMONT COLLEGES DEBATE UNION (CCDU), a 5-C program centered at Claremont McKenna College and including students from all of the Claremont undergraduate colleges, 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 2020-21 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 2020-21, 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.
Among other 2020-21 events, the Debate Union will sponsor public affairs podcasts, a series of Presidential DebateWatches and discussions, a deliberative book club, an intracollegiate public debate series – the Pentagonal Debates, multiple civic/social engagement projects, and a Conference on Criminal Justice Reform.



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 36 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.

DSC00698In addition to national programs, the Debate Union sponsors the International Public Debate Program, the nation’s largest secondary school international debate program. The IPDP represents the US at major international debate events. Members of the Debate Union coach and judge at international competitions – high school students have been award winners at the Pan American, Eurasian, European, and China National debate championships.

The CCDU supports additional educational outreach initiatives in the US and abroad, including leadership communication, photojournalism, healthy eating, and civic engagement projects. In 2020-21, the CCDU will launch a series of new competitive events for students interested in extra-curricular activities directly promoting academic and career success.


Congratulations to members of the Debate Union for fellowship and scholarship awards. This list is woefully incomplete. Please send your information to

Amanda Kandasamy CMC ’20, Fulbright Scholar (Indonesia)

Luke Radice CMC ’19, Fulbright Scholar (Germany)

Luke Radice CMC ’19, JET Program (Japan Exchange and Teaching)

Jessica Kim CMC ’20, JET Program (Japan Exchange and Teaching)

Blake Plante PO ’19, Watson Fellow

Paloma Palmer CMC ’19, Boren Scholar with the National Security Education Program – Senegal

Pastor Arroyo CMC ’18, Fulbright Scholar (Panama)

Anoush Baghdassarian CMC ’17, Napier Award for Creative Leadership (Refugee/genocide victim narrative collection in Armenia)

Anoush Baghdassarian CMC ’17, Humanity in Action (Legacy of post-Holocaust human rights – Berlin)

Joshua Rooney CMC ’17, Boren Scholar with the National Security Education Program – Kazakhstan

Syed ‘Umar’ Farooq CMC ’17, Critical Language Scholarship, US State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Jordan

Syed ‘Umar’ Farooq CMC ’17, 2016 Truman Scholar

Mariah Barber PO ’15, Fulbright Scholar (Brazil)

Nadeem Farooqi CMC ’15, Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs

Nicole Pilar PZ ’14, Fulbright Scholar (Bulgaria)

Takako Mino CMC ’11, Napier Award for Creative Leadership (Public Debate Program integration in 5 East African countries)

Holly Poole SCR ’09 and CMC MA ’11, Fulbright Scholar (Macau)

Jake Heller PZ ’07, 2006 Truman Scholar

Jesse Last PO ’07, 2006 Truman Scholar

Andrew Lee CMC ’07, 2006 Truman Scholar

Madeline Zavodny CMC ’92, 1990 Truman Scholar






Congratulations – Asante Africa/Accelerated Learning in the Classroom Program

Congratulations to the Asante Africa Foundation, a non-profit educational organization working with teachers and students in rural Tanzania and Kenya. The organization uses the Debate Union’s Public Debate Program to accelerate critical-thinking and problem-solving skills in the classroom. More than 45,000 students and hundreds of teachers have participated in programming.

Congratulations to Charlie Sprague and Jesse Katz Blumenthal, the winners of the 2010 US Universities National Debating Championship. The tournament was sponsored by Regis University and the University of Denver, April 8-11. Charlie and Jesse were undefeated in their 10 debates. They placed ahead of Stanford, Yale, and Portland State in the final. The tournament included 124 teams representing undergraduate and graduate institutions from throughout the US.

Congratulations to other award winners at the tournament. Ellen Lebow and Adriane Holter were tournament octafinalists; Nick Rosa and Priya Srivats finished in fifth place among novice contestants (students in their first year of British Parliamentary intercollegiate competition). In addition to team honors, Jess Katz Blumenthal was the 9th ranked individual speaker and Charlie Sprague was 11th speaker. This was the third time that Charlie has placed in the top ten at the national championship tournament. He was 2nd in 2008 (partner – Kari Wohlschlegel POM ’08) and 9th in 2009 (partner – Raymond Lu POM ’11). It is the second time that Jesse has placed in the top ten. He finished 10th in 2008 (partner – Joseph Clifton CMC ’11).

Other attending teams did extraordinarily well at the championship. No Claremont team was eliminated from competition prior to the result of the final preliminary debate. This is the fourth national championship for the CCDU but the first in the BP debate format, now the most popular college and university debating model in the US and in the world.