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Georgia Debate Union finishes season ranked fifth in the nation

Thursday, May 5, 2016 - 11:19am

The hardwork and determination of students on the UGA debate team has developed a competitive advantage out of the stellar UGA undergraduate experience:

The Georgia Debate Union at the University of Georgia finished the 2015-16 season ranked fifth in the varsity rankings of the American Debate Association. These rankings are based on an institution's success over the course of an entire season, which begins in mid-September and goes through the end of March.

The UGA team, with 24 members, reached the elimination rounds in nine of 14 tournaments over the course of the year, including winning the Vanderbilt tournament in October and placing second at the University of Miami tournament.

The top four ranked teams were from George Mason University, University of Michigan, Harvard University and Emory University. The Georgia Debate Union finished ahead of the University of Kentucky, Wake Forest University, Liberty University, Northwestern University and Georgetown University, rounding out the top 10, as well as the University of Florida, Vanderbilt University, University of California, Berkeley, Dartmouth College and the University of Minnesota.

"We have a talented, young group of motivated students who enjoyed tremendous success this season both regionally and nationally," said Hays Watson, head debate coach and Georgia Debate Union alumnus. "The future of the Georgia Debate Union is bright, and I'm very excited to work with both our existing members as well as our incoming debaters next year and beyond."

"The team draws upon traditional concepts of argument construction drawn from the disciplines of communication studies and philosophy, and squad members review and interpret social scientific research to formulate lines of argument to be used in the debates," said Edward Panetta, professor and head of the department of communications studies. "The breadth of scholarly disciplines that debaters look into during the course of a year looking for a competitive advantage provides them with an unmatched undergraduate educational experience."

We love this story and GDU's successes for so many reasons, but one of them is the tangible ways they are turning a humanities education into trophies, awards, and honors. And it's not just the hardware; putting the tools of the classical liberal arts education to work and showing its relevance to understanding and navigating our world today challenges the tendencies to commodify and fragment the model. As the GDU shows, a well-rounded educational experience remains indespensable. Congratulations to these fine students and the honor they bring Franklin College and the university.

Image: Junior Tucker Boyce of Alpharetta, at the 2016 Lafayette Debates at George Washington University.

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