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Debate and Academics

How does an intercollegiate debate team fit into the campus-wide web of academic programs?

Perhaps the best answer lies in the elemental nature of the academic awareness, skills, and behaviors fostered by tournament debating. The debate team's wide array of instructional goals are laid-out in its annual Instructionally Related Activity report:

Factual Information and Cognitive Skills

  • Familiarity with essential information and major issues relating to contemporary social, political, and philosophical questions of national and international importance.
  • Understanding the processes of locating, retrieving, evaluating information relating to the major questions of the day.
  • Sensitivity to the need to be able to listen to, understand, critically evaluate, and respond to arguments relating to questions under dispute.
  • Understanding how to construct persuasive arguments relating to questions under dispute, and to defend those arguments against both informed and uninformed objections.

Attitudes, Values, and Social Skills

  • Awareness of the need for citizens to be well-informed about the major questions of the day.
  • Appreciation for the function of citizen disputes and differences of opinion in a democratic society.
  • Willingness to participate in the discussions and disputes which underpin the democratic process.
  • Appreciation for and sensitivity to diversity of opinion.
  • Appreciation for the role of ethical behavior in the midst of intellectual disagreement.
  • Understanding the need to be able to work effectively with others even in highly charged situations.

Physical, Performance, and Procedural Skills

  • An improving ability to present effective oral messages to highly critical audiences.
  • An improving ability to incorporate acquired knowledge and information into discussions about contemporary social, political, and philosophical questions of national and international importance.
  • An improving ability to argue effectively in a highly charged environment.

The benefits of developing such basic critical thinking, information processing, and communication skills are not limited to any one discipline or academic program. It is no wonder that the Debate Team draws students from a wide range of majors representing all colleges of the university. As you might expect, Communication Studies, Economics, History, Philosophy, and Political Science majors are commonplace in academic debate. But, would you believe Aerospace Engineering, Biochemistry, Computer Engineering, Industrial Technology, and Animal Science?

The following is a list of majors that have been represented on the Cal Poly Debate Team in the past few years. Is your major there? If not, perhaps you can be the person who introduces your fellow majors to an educational experience that can't be duplicated in a traditional classroom environment.

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Agribusiness
  • Architecture
  • Architecture 
  • Biology
  • Business Administration
  • Child Development
  • Civil Engineering
  • Communication Studies
  • Computer Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Economics
  • English
  • Environmental and Systematic Biology
  • General Engineering
  • Graphic Communication
  • History
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Journalism
  • Kinesiology
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Nutrition
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Political Science
  • Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration

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