Debate and Public Speaking

This track uses a debate format to help you develop skills that will enhance your academic work. We work within the format of policy debate, an exciting component of Notre Dame’s debate program. Because policy debates present detailed arguments about one topic, they require strong research and writing skills—skills that will benefit you both in debate and in your academic work.

The first half of the program provides opportunities to develop skills in public speaking through short, informative and persuasive speeches. We will also watch clips from film and television programs that illustrate points raised in class. To help you develop arguments for your debates, we will work with Notre Dame’s extensive library holdings. You will learn how to use a college library and work with electronic databases and specialized journals. Field trips and other activities will offer opportunities to hone public speaking skills.

After you’ve gathered evidence for your topics, Notre Dame faculty will help you develop briefs, hone your arguments, and give you intensive, one-on-one instruction in making presentations. Divided into teams, on the last day of class you will argue for or against a resolution you and your classmates have crafted.

Academic Director

Patrick Clauss, Ph.D.

Patrick Clauss, Ph.D., is the director of First Year Writing and Rhetoric in the University Writing Program. His research and teaching interests include rhetorical and argumentation theory, informal logic, and critical thinking. Among other publications, he is the author of an online textbook on argument, iclaim: visualizing argument. Before joining the University of Notre Dame in 2008, he was a faculty member at Butler University in Indianapolis, where he also directed the writing center and taught courses in English education, advanced composition, and rhetorical theory.