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Author Topic: Topic Selection Update  (Read 6120 times)
stables
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Posts: 334


« on: April 27, 2011, 06:34:12 PM »

We are very excited to have nine papers submitted for this topic cycle. Thank you to everyone who took part. I am going to include the names and links of each of the papers. The committee is reviewing each paper and will release the ballot as soon as we can.

I will also provide some feedback to comments about the topic process shortly.

Education
2011 Update http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=2384.0;attach=667
2010 Paper http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=2384.0;attach=668

Failed States http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=2383.0;attach=666

Reformation of Financial Institutions http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=2386.0;attach=669

Foreign Assistance to India http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=2382.0;attach=665

Critical Infrastructure http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=2376.0;attach=659

Prison Reform http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=2381.0;attach=664

Corporate Tax Reform http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=2374.0;attach=657

Treaty Ratification
2011 Update http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=2377.0;attach=661
2010 Paper http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=2377.0;attach=660

Democracy Promotion in the Middle East/ North Africa http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=2380.0;attach=662
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Gordon Stables
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
Director of Debate & Forensics
Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
University of Southern California
Adam Symonds
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Posts: 349


« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2011, 06:47:39 PM »

Two Questions:

(1) Does this mean the ballot may be less than all 9?

(2) If so, what criteria are the committee members using to select the papers for the ballot?
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stables
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Posts: 334


« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2011, 07:01:32 PM »

Two Questions:

(1) Does this mean the ballot may be less than all 9?

*** Yes. The topic selection committee has always been responsible for determining what appears on the ballot.

(2) If so, what criteria are the committee members using to select the papers for the ballot?

*** As our instructions explain, we start with the presumption that all papers that satisfy the basic requirements listed in the instructions are considered for the ballot. If a topic fails to meet these criteria the committee may choose to not include it on the ballot. The instructions were updated and reposted this spring at  http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?topic=2318.0


*** Just to be clear, this is the same approach the topic committee has followed for years. The overwhelmingly majority of papers submitted to the committee appear on the ballot. At the same time, the committee has the responsibility to produce the ballot and, as such, it does work to ensure that each proposed topic meets certain minimum expectations.

Keep the questions coming. Happy to provide more information.

Gordon
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Gordon Stables
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
Director of Debate & Forensics
Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
University of Southern California
Hester
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Posts: 153


« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2011, 09:27:01 PM »

a big thanks to all the folks who exerted the effort to produce topic papers. no matter what we end up debating, all of these folks deserve praise for doing the hard work necessary to move the process along. lots of good stuff here.

We are very excited to have nine papers submitted for this topic cycle. Thank you to everyone who took part. I am going to include the names and links of each of the papers. The committee is reviewing each paper and will release the ballot as soon as we can.

I will also provide some feedback to comments about the topic process shortly.

Education
2011 Update http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=2384.0;attach=667
2010 Paper http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=2384.0;attach=668

Failed States http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=2383.0;attach=666

Reformation of Financial Institutions http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=2386.0;attach=669

Foreign Assistance to India http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=2382.0;attach=665

Critical Infrastructure http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=2376.0;attach=659

Prison Reform http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=2381.0;attach=664

Corporate Tax Reform http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=2374.0;attach=657

Treaty Ratification
2011 Update http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=2377.0;attach=661
2010 Paper http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=2377.0;attach=660

Democracy Promotion in the Middle East/ North Africa http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=2380.0;attach=662
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jshane
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Posts: 5


« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2011, 11:23:50 PM »

does anyone know if the maritime paper is still being planned or was it ditched?
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stables
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Posts: 334


« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2011, 01:11:16 AM »

The groups working on Latin America, Maritime Policy and Defense Cuts did not report back with a proposal that they would recommend at this time.

This shouldn't dissuade anyone from considering these topics in the future, but they will not be part of the 2011-12 process.

The slate of topics I posted earlier is the entire list under consideration for this cycle.
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Gordon Stables
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
Director of Debate & Forensics
Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
University of Southern California
stables
Administrator
Sr. Member
*****
Posts: 334


« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2011, 08:51:35 PM »

As the committee makes its final decisions about framing the ballot, I wanted to follow up with some comments about the selection process.

I will admit to being a little concerned by the theme that the topics are ready to go until the committee gets a hold of them. I can parse from the papers or the forums, but this theme is consistent. I am not worried about us being able to handle dissent. This community does a wonderful job of regularly expressing its displeasure with all creatures big and small. My concern is more about the integrity of this process. If folks really don't feel it is working to generate topics in a matter that balances education and competition you should encourage a different process. As is our practice I will outline why I feel the system is working well with a series of "answers to" concerns.

AT: The Committee screws up the papers

The goal of the controversy papers is designed to provide authors with both a more modest task (frame the essence of the controversy that provides the reason to debate the topic) and a clear direction for the second round of work. The history of this process is that the prior burden for the community to write papers that both framed the education rationale for the topic and completed the wording work was too much. Even when great authors took to writing great papers it was very difficult for even the most experience in our community to get both done. It was not uncommon the concern to be that we had a shortage of papers. I recall my predecessor laughing about the idea of the committee rejecting a proposal for the ballot because we often barely had enough papers to fill a ballot.

The division of responsibility between controversy and wording was designed to make it easier for the community to investigate great areas and bring them to the community.  I view this group of proposals as evidence that the bi-frication is working. We have a number of papers that reference controversies that haven't been debated in decades. We also have new approaches to topics that have recently been popular. The community is responding well to the challenge of bringing ideas to the discussion.

At the same time I would encourage everyone to consider how much more difficult these papers would be if we also attached the responsibility for final wordings. If each controversy paper can meet the goal of providing the essential answer to "What is this topic about" it allows the community to 1) know what it is voting for and 2) narrow the scope of the topic committee's work. I view this as the optimal balance between what we ask of the community and the committee.

This year you will see one new innovation to make this transition easier. We will be encouraging wording work to take place on a wiki. I feel the community's use of the wiki during the season is a good foundation for making all of the wording work easily available. I also feel it will help schools more easily transition to the eventual resolution.

AT: The committee got the immigration topic 'wrong.'

One of the most common examples about the committee getting it 'wrong' is the selection of the 2010-11 wording. If you review the immigration controversy paper you will note that visa policy, asylum and  legal protections for people already in the US all appear in that paper. The committee attempted to generate wordings that represented this broad set of approaches. When people express the concern (that I appreciate) that we didn't debate the 'core issues' of undocumented folks in the US I turn attention to resolution 3, "Resolved: the United States Federal Government should substantially increase its legal protection of unauthorized migrants in the United States in one or more of the following areas: immigration detention, removal, non-asylum legal status, eligibility for federal public benefits."

This topic finished 2nd with 22 votes and the resolution we debated had 25 votes. I personally have a lot of sympathy for the idea that there was value to resolution 3. I also believe that visas and asylum were both valuable and consistent with our charge (generate wordings from the controversy paper). I would humbly submit the committee provided the community with choices that mirrored the paper we voted for and then we, as the community, selected the specific resolution. I can't see how we could have approached it differently. The idea that we would have not provided options for other aspects of the topic is a far more activist (and meddling) stance.

AT: The whole process should take place online.

I certainly am a big believer in the possibility of using new media to enhance our productivity. As the director of our community's first online debate research initiative I am very eager to find the best way to conduct our work.  The topic committee has embraced webcasting, live-blogging, and shared google documents to maximize community input. In many ways, I would argue, the topic process has embraced transparency more than perhaps any other of our institutions.

At the same time, I can tell you that the virtual information sharing that takes place during the meetings is overwhelming. Looking at the hit traffic for the forums you get a sense of how many folks care about the topic process. The physical meetings are an essential way for the community to exclusively focus on the topic and to mange virtual input. Anyone who has participated in video-conferencing can speak to their value, but also the difficulties of using that forum as the exclusive way to settle on the ballot.

AT: We should change the process to pick the topic earlier

As with all reforms, let me be clear that it is the community to vote for the system they prefer. We as the committee follow the rules provided to us and then exercise discretion only in those areas not covered by rule. If the community voted for an earlier topic selection we would be bound to it.

At the same time, as a director and the chair, I am firmly opposed to any reform that releases our topic earlier. There are ample differences between high school and college debate which explain the differences the amount of time each topic is available. I would submit that the presence of an 'off-season' for college is one of the most important aspects to a healthy community. Folks can certainly do other things in the off-season (hello to all of you enjoying the TOC), but consider the difference that is offered by every day where there is not a college controversy or topic selected. Debaters should be the best of our respective communities and campuses. A 12 month (or following the high school model 15 month) topic season is not the way to promote the overall best in our students or our coaches.

I have worked to push the controversy process back each year. This is the latest we have ever released the controversy ballot and I am excited that many students and coaches will be considering the next topic after their spring classes end. In my ideal world we wouldn't select the controversy until the middle of the summer. My ideal vision is a 8-11 week break between the last tournament and the new topic. I know the presence of our workshop schedules make this reform hard, but my opinion is that the benefit of extra time to correct the topics is not worth the toll on our community. We should be focused on doing everything we can to improve the topics, but not at the expense of our long-term health.

AT: The committee doesn't represent my view of what the topic should be.

Every year we elect new members to the committee. This year, for the first time, we are conducting a truly national and open student election. I think there are a number of great students on the ballot. I am more than a little surprised about the lack of engagement in these elections. We are a relatively small community and we know this topic process happens every year. For me, I wanted to run again this past year because I was happy to have the community have a chance to choose a different direction. I ran against a phenomenal coach (Jonah Feldman) who I know would have done a fantastic job on the committee. I am honored to continue to serve, but I know we have lots of great folks who could also do this well. The NDT and ADA also have elections for their representatives.

We are your representatives. If you don't feel this group best serves your interests, share that idea with others. We talk a lot about politics and coalitions. This is your community. I have expressed how we are approaching this process. If you would like to see it work differently, we welcome your input.

Thanks for reading. Expect to see the ballot shortly.

Gordon

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Gordon Stables
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
Director of Debate & Forensics
Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
University of Southern California
Malgor
Full Member
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Posts: 220


« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2011, 09:05:54 PM »

Topic committee definitely gets a bad wrap on the immigration topic.  There were 'non-visas' choices on the ballot.  A fair election determined that a bigger chunk of the community wanted to debate a 'visas only' topic.  Not the topic comm's fault.
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