Willamette University leads effort to develop Chinese Debate Association

Creating open dialogue and civic engagement among college students in China are goals of the new and evolving Chinese Debate Association, led by Willamette University through a three-year grant.

“Although a few other universities go to China to help with a debate here and there, this is the first major activity spread across many provinces of the Peoples Republic of China,” said Robert Trapp, a Willamette rhetoric professor heading the project. “I think these skills of argumentation, debate and advocacy — the basic skills of citizenship — are very good for Chinese students to have as their society begins to open up.”

Willamette University’s Debate Union and Office of Campus Life are working to establish the CDA along with debate coaches from Linfield College and George Fox University in Oregon; Pacific Lutheran University and the University of Puget Sound in Washington; and Regis University in Colorado.

The new association will extend debate throughout China by creating seven regional centers and hiring Chinese-certified debate trainers to coach at least 1,200 Chinese college students.

Willamette students will be recruited to lead civic engagement projects with Chinese students, both in China and the United States, and students will have the opportunity to engage in debate tournaments, training and internships.

Debate activities begin in June.

Become Involved

Willamette students wanting to learn more about the project are encouraged to contact Trapp at (503) 370-6624 or Douglass at (503) 370-6447.