Pécs Debate Academy
Villages in a growingly urbanized world
Fostering public discourse on ‘glocality’
(July 16-27, 2014)
The Pécs Debate Academy, started in 2013 using the 17-year international experience of the popular International Culture Week in Pécs (ICWiP), is a unique regional initiative of its kind in Hungary, the very first debate event in the Transdanubian region, and one of those rare debate summer universities, which offers 7 university ECTS credits for those, who take an active part in the trainings, lectures, sessions and the final tournament. The main topic of the 2014 summer academy is: “Villages in a growingly urbanized world” – Fostering public discourse on ‘glocality’. The official language of the summer academy is English, the debate level is announced for novice (for beginners).
Our main objective is to improve the critical thinking, argumentation and debating skills of young people – in particular, university students –, in addition, to offer a high-level education to future decision-makers. To pay attention to the future generations is extremely important, since these young people will have opinions and actions related to national and global issues that will stay essential and highly crucial in decision-making, also supporting the application of democratic practices.
THE BPD – THE FRAME OF ACTIONS
We decided to emphasize ‘non-frontal teaching’ (which is not still a leading method in Hungary and in the surrounding countries), using interactive methods such as British Parliamentary Debating (BPD) with the help of invited debate experts and trainers. British parliamentary style debate is a common form of academic debate. Two sides are called the Government and the Opposition. The speakers are similarly titled: Opening Government, Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Opening Opposition, Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Closing Government, Member of the Government, Government Whip, Closing Opposition, Member of the Opposition, Opposition Whip. This style is very vivid; demanding sharp concentration from the debaters, letting them to ask freely but strictly requires keeping the protocol of the official British parliamentary format. Each speaker has 7 minutes to talk, which is controlled and evaluated by debate judges.
The Pécs Debate Academy with its thematic topic consists of the following courses and events: team building will launch the first day in the form of short games. In the first period the Debate Skills “course-trilogy” will open the professional program to broaden the participants’ knowledge about the necessary skills with five debate trainers, who will follow and support their groups until the final debate tournament. The trainers prepare in advance a three-hour-long introduction on debate methods and skills how to become a successful debater, and give a sample about the BPD. After the Debate Skills courses debate trainings will follow, where participants can try themselves in real situations, and start to compete with each other.
In the second period Lectures take place. Participating students can discuss the question of sustainable development of urban and rural areas, their energy-saving potentials, energy usage, water and waste management, recycling issues and other related critical questions.
Important to note that the debate trainings only partly discuss the thematic topic, there are other questions to discuss, mostly political questions and dilemmas, questions, facts concerning current world affairs. The thematic topic is chosen for broadening the participants’ point of view about sustainability, since supposedly they are the decision-makers of the future, they must keep their eyes sharp on the issue of sustainability in all walks of life.
In the last period of the academy the Debate Tournament will close the intensive training program with Preliminary Rounds, Semi-Finals and the Final Debate, where the students have to be prepared for articulating and defending their opinions, viewpoints, while need to be able to follow and understand the standpoints of the others. We aim to organize the final event in the Courthouse of Pécs. The Final Debate is an open event for all University of Pécs students, alumni, the locals of Pécs, and all inquirers from other cities and countries as well.
In addition, we plan to design off-programs for the participants to be able to relax in a way that it is also inspiring and at the same time sufficiently educative in an indirect way. The cultural programs will take place mostly in the evenings, such as a thematic movie evening (connected to the themes of the academy), guided night tour in the historical downtown of Pécs, a museum night, a full-day in the Zsolnay Cultural Quarter, and a Sports Day. The debate academy will organize a field visit to Southwestern Hungary, the Ormansag, which authentically proves the fact that such a poor rural area is still available to find solutions for survival, though some regional initiatives have just been on the rise.
Target audience is the youth between the ages of 18-35, university students, young leaders, NGO representatives, but basically everyone is welcome, who is interested in the event.