Public Speaking and Debate

This track uses a debate format to help you develop communication skills that will enhance your academic and personal lives. We work within the format of policy debate, an exciting component of Notre Dame’s debate program. Policy debates present detailed arguments about significant, contemporary issues and topics. They require strong research, critical thinking, and writing and speaking skills, skills you will use after this course in a myriad of areas including not only your college coursework but life in general.  

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. Class lessons and activities, including individual and group presentations, offer many opportunities to hone your public speaking skills. Then, 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 university library and navigate electronic databases and specialized journals. Divided into teams of three or four students, on the last day of class you will argue for or against a resolution you and your classmates have crafted. 

Whether you are an experienced debater or have never delivered a speech before, all you need is the desire to develop as a critical thinker and effective speaker and debater.

Academic Director

Patrick Clauss, Ph.D.

Patrick Clauss, Ph.D.

Patrick Clauss, Ph.D., is the O'Malley Director of the University Writing Program. His research and teaching interests include rhetorical and argumentation theory, informal logic, and critical thinking. In the spring of 2014, he was named a recipient of the Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C. Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. 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.