MIDLAND — The Mackinac Center for Public Policy today announced the dates and locations of its 16th annual High School Debate Workshop program. The workshops are designed to provide high school debaters with the intellectual firepower they will need in their fall debates. This year’s nationwide debate topic involves the federal government’s policies toward marine natural resources.

The official resolution reads: “Resolved: That the United States federal government should establish an ocean policy substantially increasing protection of marine natural resources.”

“This year’s debate topic promises to be like no other,” said Michael LaFaive, director of fiscal policy for the Mackinac Center. “Few areas in public policy generate as much emotional discourse as how to protect the environment. By teaching students about the power of economic incentives, and how they are used to protect marine resources, the Center will give students a uniquely valuable perspective.”

The program will feature a panel of academics and debate experts who can offer fresh perspectives on the national debate topic. Students and coaches will learn from Michael De Alessi, Donald Leal, and Gregory Rehmke at this year’s events.

De Alessi is Director of Natural Resource Policy for the Reason Public Policy Institute in Los Angeles. He is the author of “Fishing for Solutions,” a scholarly paper about how to deal with the depletion of ocean fisheries. He specializes in water policy, marine conservation and wildlife issues and is former director of the Center for Private Conservation in Washington, D.C. Donald Leal is the author of “Homesteading the Oceans,” The Case for Property Rights in U.S. Fisheries. He has written extensively on fisheries, water, outdoor recreation, and oil and gas policy. His articles have appeared in newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, and he is the author of numerous published papers. Gregory Rehmke directs the High School Speech and Debate Program at the Foundation for Economic Education in New York State. For over 10 years, Rehmke has coached debate students and produced books and study guides to help forensic students across the country.

“For 16 years now, the Mackinac Center has been assembling top-notch teams of experts to assist more than 7,000 Michigan high schoolers with the national debate topic,” said Lawrence Reed, president of the Mackinac Center. “This year’s team will not only be able to equip our students with the information they need to acquit themselves well in debate, but will also offer them diverse perspectives.”

“Experienced debaters know the importance of early reading and research on the debate topic,” said Rehmke. “These workshops will provide an invaluable source of information to students looking to hone their skills.”

Public Goodrich High School debate coach Jesse Nardizzi said about last year’s debate workshop: “Today, thanks to you [Mackinac Center supporters], I witnessed 50 9th-through-12th-graders from different Michigan communities learning debate, challenging their thoughts, making them think beyond mere opinion.”

The 2003 workshops will be held on four consecutive days in September in the following cities:

Livonia – Monday, Sept. 22, 2003

Jackson – Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2003

Grand Rapids – Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2003

Traverse City – Thursday, Sept. 25, 2003

High school debate coaches will receive formal invitations to these programs in August. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, research and educational institute headquartered in Midland.