«For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.»
US author and businesswoman Margaret Heffernan
Debating is a vital tool of communication as it fosters the exchange of competing views and ultimately propels ideas and innovation in society.
In the recent past, students of the Swiss Study Foundation have made their own efforts to inspire a debating culture among the members of the Foundation: In three successive workshops throughout the last 12 months, more than 70 students have been introduced to the norms of rigorous reasoning and argumentation by internationally renowned debaters and got a first taste of the art of debating in thrilling tournaments. The latter were organised according to the British Parliamentary Style of Debating, with motions being advanced by a government team and contested by the debaters from the opposition.
During the workshops, it proved that playing the devil’s advocate for a given idea incited the members to fortify their reasoning by engaging directly with the opposing speakers. Debating motions as diverse as banning the use of referenda in Switzerland or prohibiting homeopathy further highlighted the pivotal role of language and framing in political discourse. Finally, in their feedbacks the students overwhelmingly emphasised their desire for a permanent debating forum within the Foundation to advance «ideas and true innovation» in a wide array of topics.
In light of these experiences, a group of students of the Swiss Study Foundation (Darian Heim, Joel O’Neill, Simon Wüthrich, Andrin Flütsch, Jan Serwart and Philippe Valmaggia) has decided to create a Debating Society. This Society will provide scope for developing skills in debating both through in-house workshops and participation in external tournaments.
The Debating Society will be officially inaugurated and launched on Saturday, 25 April 2015. The one-day event at the FHNW in Brugg is intended to lay the groundwork for the forum by creating momentum among active members of the Foundation as well as alumnae/i – both experienced debaters and novices.
The inaugural event is organised as an opening tournament where three forms of participation are possible (please indicate in your motivation to which form of participation you are applying):
Crash course: The crash course in English is designed for members of the Foundation as well as alumnae/i without any experience in debating, notably the British Parliamentary Style. It will take place in the morning of 25 April 2015 (start at 09:15) and completed by a light lunch on the spot. The participants of the crash course are invited to compete in the subsequent debating tournament with the other members of the Foundation. Applicants for this form of participation can send their motivation via the usual procedure of the Foundation.
Debating tournament: The debating tournament will take place in the afternoon of 25 April 2015 and will start at 13:00. In addition to the crash course participants, members of the Foundation who have already attended one of the three workshops entitled «Intellectual Tool – The Art of Debating» (26 & 27 April 2014, 15 & 16 November 2014 or 21 & 22 March 2015) are invited to participate. Applications can be made via the usual procedure of the Foundation. Also, applicants are kindly asked to state in their motivation whether they already have a team partner. We are pleased to announce that the members of several other, already established English speaking debating societies in Switzerland will also compete in the tournament. Based on such a diverse pool of participants, the new Debating Society will have a far reach already upon its inception.
Apéro riche and final debate: The Swiss Study Foundation would also like to reach out to alumnae/i, sponsors, and other people affiliated with the Foundation with a strong wish to listen to debates. They are kindly invited to join the students for a common apéro riche starting at 18:15 and the subsequent final debate featuring the best contestants of the day. In those finals, a topic of actuality in the Swiss political context will be debated guaranteeing an exciting and interesting experience. The inaugural event will draw to a close at 21:00.
Members, alumnae/i and other people affiliated with the Foundation are encouraged to appoint the date of 25 April 2015 and thereby help to lay the foundation stone for what we hope will be a dynamic and lively debating society.
Registration for the event is open until April 15th, 2015 on the website of the Swiss Study Foundation. For any questions or other inquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.