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Author Topic: 2016-17 Topic Committee work update  (Read 2105 times)
Hester
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« on: May 06, 2016, 10:47:04 PM »

Discussion has been more robust on the Facebook College Policy Debate Topic Discussion page, and i would recommend to anyone interested reading more from community members. Below is a copy and paste of an update posted there earlier..

Phase 1 of the Topic Process is complete. Schools should be receiving the ballot very soon. It will contain the following choices:
Anti-Racism
Emissions
Labor
Police
Poverty
Taxes

Thanks to all who submitted papers. Some have asked how the Topic Committee (TC) came to include/exclude the topic areas we did. Here's some inside info. As the chair, i will be talking about "TC decisions." Please understand that my comments are not meant to represent the specific thoughts of any one TC member, but rather reflect the decision-making process of the overall committee. There was debate and discussion among the TC members on several issues, with disagreement on some questions, but overall consensus on the final outcome of Phase 1.
For those seeking more information to help guide future paper authors:
1) Luck matters. There was support for the Wealth Redistribution topic area, but the TC members who liked that topic area ultimately felt that what they liked about that topic area could be better addressed via other topic areas (Poverty, Labor, Taxes) that made it onto the ballot. To best avoid writing a paper that ends up competing against papers covering similar topic areas, try to publicize your interest in any area on forums like this one to attract collaborators.
2) Evidence matters. While the TC contains a combined number of years of experience that traverses dozens of prior topics/resolutions, we prefer to have the paper authors substantiate the case for their topic area. When questions about whether a topic area can be translated into debatable resolutions or whether there is viable AFF/NEG ground for a year's worth of debates, it's better if those questions are answered with evidence in the paper.
3) Why not Ag? While the TC appreciated and commend the efforts of the authors, the TC was not convinced that the 'status quo of agricultural subsidies' had changed enough and in the right ways since this topic area was debated in 2008-9, and thus lacked the freshness necessary to justify its inclusion on the ballot. On the other hand, the impacts of the recent Paris Climate agreement had changed the 'status quo of climate policy' in substantial ways since the 2004-5 fossil fuel resolution was debated. Thus, the former did not make the ballot, while the latter did.
4) Front-load your responses to the the key criticisms, and be sure to include evidence (or DAMN good analytics). If you know your topic area may be criticized for not falling inside the parameters of the topic rotation (e.g., you want to debate Space but the rotation is set up for 'domestic'), you'll want to devote significant effort to substantively answering those criticisms.
5) DON'T BE DISCOURAGED - RESUBMIT! Writing a Topic Area paper is hard and that effort deserves respect and appreciation from all of the community. Just because your paper doesn't make the Topic Area ballot does not mean you did a bad job or the paper is a mess. See #1 and #4 - sometimes, it's a case of 'cool area, wrong year'. Submit it again in the future. There are multiple examples from recent years of topic area papers that failed to make the ballot in previous years making the ballot that year. Keep at it!
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