IDEA Debate Exchange done, but not over yet

The IDEA Debate Exchange 2014 took place from 20 to 26 July in Hoorn, Netherlands. Fifty student debaters from across Europe took part in the event which was set up to develop new ideas for debate training, events and for creating more sustainable development of their own debate organisations.

All the workshops have finished, the wrap-up of the project has started and the participants have headed home however the effects of the IDEA Debate Exchange will last longer than the training event itself.

Participants from all over Europe exchanged useful information with each other, shared ideas on how to develop their activities and left the Exchange energized and excited about starting up new programs and training curriculum in the near future.

For many participants this was the first event they had attended where they could learn how to provide training to new debaters and more experienced ones in a systematic manner. Equally, the organisation of events like public debates or tournaments, or the organisation of debate clubs, has previously been something they learned about through trial and error.

They welcomed the chance to learn from more experienced participants, and to exchange ideas between different debate organisations and student debaters from across the continent and made the most of the opportunity to quickly build up capacity and learn new skills.

The restart of the training program on Thursday, after an excursion day the day before, saw participants choose between workshops on organising public debates, building up debate societies’ competitiveness and how to train non-debaters as debate trainers. The seminars offered a chance to discuss European debates and dialogues, a test of debate infographs, and a lesson on mastering spreadsheets and project design. 

In the evening session participants discussed different opportunities for European cooperation on debate and collectively picked the ones they preferred, before developing those further. The most popular suggestions were to create a Europe-wide platform website with as much information about debate and tournaments and events as could be found gathered in one spot, to have a trainer pool that debate organisations could request trainers from, holding regional tournaments, developing an online mentorship programme and looking for internship opportunities in debate organisations. These were further developed by the participants and discussed on Friday in an interactive seminar.

Friday saw the last part of the education sessions with opportunities to experience:

  • How a coached debate works and how to coach style and rhetorics
  • How to develop a debate curriculum
  • Undertaking evaluation and project management
  • Lobbying in Europe
  • Knowledge transfer in debate societies
  • EU YouthPass initiative
  • Exercises to use for specific types of debate skills.

The evening was concluded with a meal, evaluation activities, and a trip to a special beer café before the final goodbyes on Saturday.

IDEA NL will talk further with all of the project partners on how to take the lessons from the IDEA Debate Exchange to future projects and to more organisations and people in the debating world. We are very happy with all of the positive feedback, and hope that the participants will take the lessons they learned with them and spread debate even further in Europe.

Take a look at the pictures to see what happened at the IDEA Debate Exchange.

The IDEA Debate Exchange is made possible by funding fromYouth in Action, a youth fund of the European Commission.