DENTON (UNT), Texas — The University of North Texas Debate Team has been ranked first in Texas and 95th in the world by the International Debate Education Association. UNT’s team was placed ahead of the debate teams from the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, and Texas Tech University.
The International Debate Education Association works with young people from all over the world in communities with little or no history of debate. Association members teach critical thinking, advocacy, conflict resolution and public speaking skills to people develop the desire and capacity to look respectfully at other’s points of view. The association’s mission is to promote mutual understanding and democracy globally by supporting discussion and active citizenship locally.
The annual rankings are determined by the teams’ performances in 33 high-profile tournaments across the world to show an accurate representation of the comparative strength of competing universities. The totals are calculated by adding the results of all the teams from all the tournaments accumulated over the course of the year.
The UNT Debate Team is directed by Brian Lain, association professor of communication studies. The team participates regularly in National Debate Tournament and Cross-Examination Debate Association tournaments throughout the academic year. The team will attend its first tournament this year Sept. 21-24 at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, and will also attend tournaments at the University of Kentucky, Wake Forest University, University of Iowa, Northwestern University, and Harvard University. A detailed schedule of the tournaments can be found online.
Lain said the team is expecting big things this year. In 2011-2012 15 members participated in 772 separate debates at several tournaments. The team won an average of 53 percent of the time, and the most experienced team won 62.8 percent of the time. Ending the year ranked at 20th in the nation, members brought home more than 20 trophies.
“The ranking is incredibly important, we have been inside the top 25 in the nation for quite some time, but to see our achievements put on a global scale really drives home the point of what our students are accomplishing,” said Lain. “To have the highest ranking of any college or university in Texas, public or private, regardless of the format of debate that they compete in speaks volumes about the kind of students we have in UNT Debate.”
UNT”s Debate Team is also engaged in several outreach programs designed to expand and support the academic debate community and foster argumentation education. These activities include hosting a high school debate tournament, a college debate tournament and a summer workshop for high school students.
UNT’s Debate Team is open to all undergraduate students enrolled in the university.
A complete list of the IDEA ratings is available on its website.