Author Topic: Register for the Annenberg Debates - 1st Online Invitational Debate Tournament!  (Read 2419 times)


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Hello All,

I am excited to announce the Annenberg Digital Debates - the first online, invitational debate tournament open to college and university debaters throughout the world.  This event will take place between April 14 and April 29, with prelim debates occurring from April 14 to April 21.  Debaters are invited to debate asynchronously - meaning that they will take turns uploading recorded speeches, with each student posting one speech every 24 hours.  The event has a low entry fee of a $15 donation to HandsOn Tokyo - a non-profit organization providing relief and rebuilding assistance in Japan following the recent earthquake and tsunami events.  The debates are also contextual to the ongoing situation in Japan, as debaters will be asked to argue whether nations worldwide should reduce their commitment to nuclear power.  

A full copy of our invite follows this message, and you can find out more about the event on our website - - or follow us on Facebook -

Thanks all, we hope you will take part in a groundbreaking endeavor to take competitive academic debate beyond the classroom and into public and social media discourses.

Jim Maritato
Assistant Director of Public Debate & Forensics
University of Southern California

Hosted by the University of Southern California’s Trojan Debate Squad & DebateHall
April 14th through April 29th, 2011
An innovative way to improve public argument and support relief efforts in Japan

Academic debate has a long tradition in engaging compelling questions of public interest.  In light of the saddening devastation from the recent earthquake and tsunami in Northeastern Japan and the resulting failures of Japan’s coastal nuclear power plants, political pundits, newscasters, and experts have begun to question the future of nuclear power.  We invite university students from around the world to take part in an online debate competition featuring the following proposition:

Resolved:  Nations should reduce their commitment to nuclear energy.

New media technology makes it possible for us to have today’s university students both lend their voice to the debate and directly contribute to relief efforts in Japan.  Students will take turns debating both sides of the proposition by uploading speeches through - a new and innovative platform. Each student will have 24 hours to reply to their opponent and the debate will progress. The entire debate will be shared online with public audiences and opened up to public comment.  Judges will choose a winner and provide feedback to debaters.  Prizes donated by the USC Annenberg Trojan Debate Squad will go to the most outstanding students.

In addition to enhancing the quality of public argument, every entry supports relief efforts. Registration is $15 US, payable through PayPal. All registration fees will be donated to HandsOn Tokyo, a non-profit organization in Japan that pledges to use all collected funds for rebuilding projects in the hard-hit Tohoku area, and in assisting victims of the catastrophe who have been displaced to Tokyo.

If you are a university student or someone interested in judging these debates we encourage you to register today at
We invite everyone to follow the debates at and our Facebook page,

We hope that you will join us as we break ground on a new and exciting project that encourages students worldwide to engage and debate current events and important social and political questions. Questions?  Please do not hesitate to contact us!

Dr. Gordon Stables                        Jim Maritato
Director of Debate & Forensics        Assistant Director of Public Debate & Forensics                

Rules and Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I register?   

The Annenberg Digital Debates are an excellent opportunity for students looking to test their argument skills to engage competitors from across the world, seek prizes and awards, and help alleviate strife following a natural disaster all at the same time.
Students don’t need experience to debate. This unique event is an opportunity to showcase the possibilities of deliberation in new media environments. College and University students from anywhere in the world are invited to join.  The Annenberg Digital Debates represent the first fully open online tournament ever hosted by an American college or University.  Join us as we break new ground toward bringing competitive academic debates out of the classroom and into interactive public spaces fostered by new media technologies!

Who is eligible to compete?

All debaters must be over the age of 18 and currently enrolled in a degree program in a college or university.  All participants must participate in all preliminary debates.  Any participant that forfeits a debate will be removed from subsequent rounds of the tournament.  Any participant that fails to upload speeches before established deadlines will forfeit the round and be dropped from competition for remaining rounds.

How do you compete in this format?

The First Annenberg Digital Debates will take place entirely online. Debaters will debate asynchronously in a one-on-one format by uploading a series of video speeches. Debaters will be expected to post 1 speech every 24 hours.  Every competitor will take part in two preliminary rounds of debate set over the course of the week of April 14th and April 21st.  The eight debaters with the highest rankings and win loss records will after round two will advance to elimination rounds. All debates will take place in English.

At the start of the tournament each debater will be randomly assigned to two debates - one in which they will argue for the resolution, and one in which they will argue against the resolution.  Judging will take place at the conclusion of all speeches. Assignments will be delivered to competitors and judges via e-mail and posted via our Facebook page.

What is the format of debates?

Students will be assigned to support the proposition in one debate (the role of affirmative speaker) and oppose it in the next debate (the role of negative speaker). When each schedule is released students will have their sides selected for them. Debaters will be expected to adhere to the following time constraints and format:

Affirmative speaker’s opening speech: 4 minutes
Negative speaker’s opening speech : 5 minutes
Affirmative speaker’s rebuttal: 3 minutes
Negative speaker’s rebuttal and closing remarks: 4 minutes
Affirmative speaker’s rebuttal and closing remarks: 2 minutes

Please note: Debaters whose videos are more than 30 seconds longer than the maximum length for any given speech will forfeit their debates.

How do I register?

Go to and complete the registration form.  All entries must be received by Monday April 11th, 2011.  Entrants will also be required to make a $15.00 donation to HandsOn Tokyo, a non-profit organization providing volunteer support and supplies toward relief and rebuilding efforts in Japan.  Entrants will be required to forward their e-mail receipt to the tournament as proof that they have made their donation.

Where do entry fees go?

USC Trojan Debate and DebateHall are not assessing entry fees for this tournament.  However, each participating competitor is required to make a $15.00 to HandsOn Tokyo. This donation will be processed via PayPal and fees will be directly deposited to HandsOn Tokyo.  Fees must be paid via credit card through PayPal. Prizes and awards will be provided by the University of Southern California’s Trojan Debate Squad and will not be paid for with entry fees. For more information on HandsOn Tokyo, please visit

What is the schedule?

Preliminary debates: April 14th through April 21st
Judging for preliminary debates: April 22nd & April 23rd
Elimination debates: April 25th through April 29th.

Who judges the debates?

We require that participants provide a judge who can judge two debates between April 22nd and April 23rd.  Judges should be professionals in any number of fields. Judges are not expected to have advanced training in nuclear power or debate. Judges may not participate in the tournament as debaters.  Judges are asked to support an evaluation of each debate that fairly attempts to determine which debater was most effective in presenting their arguments and refuting those of their opponent. Judges will be provided with a rubric to evaluate the debate and to determine the single winner in each debate. The rubric will also allow judges to provide feedback as to how each debater may improve their performance.  Please note: If judges do not render a decision for a debate by the established deadline the school they represent will be disqualified from the tournament.

How are debaters evaluated?

Debaters both attempt to persuade their judges and improve the quality of public argument. They should strive to inform audiences even as they recognize that their judges are assumed to be a public audience, not a panel of experts in formal models of debate or nuclear energy. Debaters are encouraged to consult research on the topic and to support their arguments with relevant and credible evidence.  The goal of a successful debater should be to construct a well-reasoned and well supported argument that is responsive to their opponents.

In addition to competitive win/loss records, participants will also be evaluated on the effectiveness of their delivery, use of supporting evidence, reasoning, and refutation skills.  Participants will be ranked on a 1-5 scale  in each of these categories (5 is the maximum ranking for excellent performance and 1 is the lowest ranking).  Rankings will be considered along with competitive records to determine the eight debaters who will advance to elimination rounds.

Are there awards?

The top eight competitors will take part in elimination competitions and receive trophies recognizing their outstanding accomplishment. Additionally, debaters advancing to elimination rounds will receive gift cards, ranging from $25 to $100.

What equipment do I need to compete?

Participants will need to be able to access the World Wide Web, record and watch streaming Internet video footage and communicate via e-mail.  All judges and debaters will need the following technology to participate:
●              A personal computer with a broadband Internet connection, capable of running a web browser with the Adobe Flash plug-in.  We recommend participants use Firefox 3.6 / Internet Explorer 8 or higher.
●              A means of recording videos of at least 5 minutes in length. This can be achieved with a webcam and microphone on a laptop computer – but we strongly suggest that participants use a camera for maximum quality of recordings.
●              An account on
●              We strongly recommend that you ensure the functionality of your computer and Internet connection prior to the tournament.  We also recommend that you access and ensure that you can successfully upload and view speeches before the start of the tournament.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2011, 03:30:25 PM by maritato »