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Discussion and Debate

Debates can be found in all kinds of contexts. There are academic debates on the question how to interpret the latest research data. In parliament, MP’s debate the right course of action, and in debating societies people debate just for fun. Besides these formal debates which usually comply with a given set of rules, we find more informal debates, for instance during talk shows on television. Also, lots of interviews can be seen there. Given the ubiquity of argument and debate, having the right kind of debating skills could be of importance for your career. Furthermore, knowing how to conduct an interview, both at the ‘sending’ and the ‘receiving’ end may also be of benefit. In this course we practice several debating and interviewing skills, such as arguing effectively, listening carefully to your ‘opponent’, moderating a debate, and how to conduct an in-depth interview.

How do we debate?
In this course we will mostly debate in the form of a contest, in which a jury decides which side of the argument wins. We will practice different formats (the Oxford debate, Lower House debate, etc.). In the course of the module you will take all the different roles that are vital to the debate: debating, being a member of the jury, and moderating the discussion. We will debate on current societal issues such as the Corona crisis or global justice. Besides debates, we will also conduct interviews.

What does the course involve?
This course will be a mixture of both theory and practice.  You will learn both to analyze and build a solid argument and how to reject a counter-argument. You will pratice several forms of debate such as the Oxford debate and the Lower House debate. You will also practice several forms of interview. The course ends with a debate contest in which two teams will try to win the specially designed cup. Themes that wil be addressed are:

  • What is debating and what is the difference between just a discussion and a debate?
  • How to quickly find and order arguments and how to structure a sustained argument.
  • How to formulate in a concise, clear and attractive way: framing, metaphors and oneliners.
  • How to effectively react on attacks and how to convince the other party.
  • How to conduct an interview effectively and how to be interviewed.

The module is taught by Dr Cees Leijenhorst, who is associate professor in the history of modern philosophy at Radboud University. Cees has a wideranging experience with moderating debates, among others for Radboud Reflects.

In between the meetings the students analyze real debates and prepare short arguments that they present to each other.

The course consists of five meetings on Tuesday night from 18.30 until 21.00hrs.:
Tuesday 18 October
Tuesday 1 November
Tuesday 15 November
Tuesday 29 November
Tuesday 13 December