Novice Policy Debate
RESEARCH | ARGUMENTATION | PERSUASION
Designed by successful coaches with teaching and classroom experience, our program offers a fast-paced, yet engaging curriculum that equips students with the skills they need for success at their first policy debate tournament.
From day 1, we emphasize debate fundamentals, introducing students to argumentation theory and providing students with a carefully constructed evidence packet designed to help guide them through the topic.
Morning sessions are spent covering new debate concepts and topic information through engaging lectures and interactive lessons. In the afternoons, students engage in debates, applying skills from earlier lessons. Evenings are reserved for students to work one-on-one with the instructors, reviewing concepts, delivering practice speeches, or discussing new arguments.
We will offer a comprehensive curriculum that prepares students to debate and research the upcoming year’s topic along with perennial debate arguments. Each lab will focus on the three pillars of research, argumentation, and persuasion. Students will conduct their research using the Harvard Libraries, the largest private library in the world; will learn to construct strategic, compelling arguments; and will practice speaking with clarity, conviction, and passion.
About the Program
Benefits of an Online Experience
Although we are disappointed that we cannot host students at the beautiful Harvard campus, we are incredibly excited about the opportunities an online camp offers. We have been working around the clock to make sure students experience all of the things that helped us fall in love with debate so many summers ago. We are designing fun new material every day, but here are a few things you can expect already:
Exciting lectures delivered live via Zoom from top experts in the topic area. Each session will include a Q&A session for students and be recorded so that students can return and review materials later or catch up on something they miss.
Engaging, student-directed lessons that take advantage of fun online learning tools and give students the opportunity to breakout in groups, teach and learn from their peers, pursue their specific research interests, and make new friends.
Individualized feedback and the option to reserve specific meeting times with instructors daily.
Challenging curriculum that you can return to all year- each assignment will be posted on the class page, along with additional assignments that students can complete to learn more. We offer 2-3 different level of assignment for each concept so that students can challenge themselves during camp or return later in the year to continue learning.
Each evening we will host a viewing party to show debates or relevant topic movies. These will be educational, but it is also an opportunity for students to hang out and get to know other debaters online.
Sample Daily Schedule
You can find our daily schedule here. Our days will begin at 12pm EST in order to accommodate students in various time zones. Each day is broken up into 3 parts. In general, we will spend the first part of our day learning new content and discussing readings from the night before. The second part of the day will be devoted to group research and research presentations. The final part of the day is devoted to skills practice and games. Students are encouraged to attend all parts in order to get the most from camp, however, we understand this might be difficult for everyone. If you are unable to attend part of camp, please reach out and let your instructors know.
- Strategy: Constructing strategic arguments
- Research: Advanced research practices
- Argumentation: Line-by-line argumentation
- Delivery: Persuasive and clear speaking
- Preparation: Tournament preparation techniques
What Students and Parents Say
Novice Debate Curriculum Coordinator & Lab Leader
Maggie is the Associate Director of Debate at Harvard University. She has found success in coaching, both at the high school and collegiate level. In high school, her teams have advanced to the late elimination rounds of nearly every major national tournament, including, Harvard, Emory, the University of Kentucky, the University of Michigan, the University of Texas, and the NDCA National Championship. As a debate coach at Harvard, her teams have won multiple national college tournaments, advanced to the late elimination rounds of the National Debate Tournament (NDT), and been awarded The Copeland Award for the most successful season performance.
Maggie has always enjoyed working with young high school students, and in the summer of 2018, she decided to establish the HDC novice policy debate workshop. While many debate camps offered an excellent camp experience for already established debaters, she felt that many students missed out on the joy of debate because there weren’t enough resources for those that didn’t already have successful programs back home. To remedy this, she, with the help of nationally successful high school coaches, worked to develop a program devoted entirely to the success of young, inexperienced students.
In the classroom, Maggie emphasizes active student engagement and participation. Her curriculum focuses on activity based learning, working to build a strong foundation in argumentation fundamentals and instilling confidence in young debaters.
Austen Yorko is a teacher and policy debate coach at Montgomery Bell Academy (MBA) in Nashville, TN. He has successfully coached teams advancing to the deep elimination rounds of nearly every major national high school debate tournament in the country. In the 2018-2019 season alone, his teams have won 1st place at Emory, Berkeley, University of Michigan, St. Marks, the Greenhill Round Robin, and the Glenbrooks. In 2019, his team won the National Championship tournament hosted by the prestigious National Debate Coaches Association (NDCA) and most recently, his team won the online Tournament of Champions (eTOC). He is also the 2020 recipient of the Rising Star Award, recognizing his coaching excellence. In order to win this award, coaches must be nominated by their students.
Prior to arriving at MBA, Austen was also a successful policy debater. He started his debate career at Wooster High School in Wooster, Ohio before continuing at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. During his time at Trinity, Austen cleared to the elimination rounds of multiple prestigious tournaments and earned a qualifying spot to the National Debate Tournament (NDT) 3 out of his 4 years.
In his current position at MBA, Austen employs a student-centric approach to coaching and teaching. In his own words, he explains, “I believe that the best route for training and encouraging young debaters is to listen to their needs and wants, figuring out how to best maximize the skills and styles that the individual students are most comfortable with and most excited about learning.”
Tripp Rebrovick, PhD
Tripp Rebrovick, PhD, is the Director of Debate at Harvard University. He has a BA from Harvard and a PhD from Johns Hopkins University. Tripp has over twelve years of experience teaching at summer workshops and has worked with students of all skill levels. While a debater, he was the top speaker at the TOC, winner of NFL Nationals, and a four-time elimination-round participant at the NDT.
Samar is a rising junior debating at Harvard. She was a semifinalist at the 2020 American Debate Association National Championship and an octafinalist at the 2021 National Debate Tournament. As a debater for Greenhill School, Samar won three octafinals bid tournaments, the TFA State Tournament, and multiple top-five speaker awards. She qualified to the Tournament of Champions twice, reaching the quarters as a junior and the semis as a senior.
Rishi is a rising sophomore at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he also competes for the Harvard Debate Council. He attended Lexington High School, where he has been an assistant coach for one year.
Spencer "SkyCat" Williams
Spencer attended Oregon Episcopal School in High School and is now a rising sophomore debating hybrid with Harvard. Spencer began debating in his sophomore year of high school and accumulated 8 total bids by the end of senior year. Spencer is also the assistant debate coach at Edgemont High School in New York and BASIS High School in Texas. Spencer worked last year at the Georgetown Summer Debate Institute.