Nearly 300 high school debate
students and their instructors from across Michigan attended Debate Workshops
hosted in September by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a nonprofit,
nonpartisan research and educational institute and the publisher of Michigan
For 17 years the Mackinac
Center has held the workshops to provide high school debaters with training for
their debates on the National Forensic League’s annual resolution. "It’s hard to
believe that this year’s senior debaters were born the year we started this
program," said Lawrence W. Reed, president of the Mackinac Center for Public
The Debate Workshops are the
Center’s longest-running program and have exposed more than 8,000 students to
debate arguments and ideas that they may not have received from other sources.
"The Mackinac Center provides students with unique arguments because few
academic and mainstream sources of information detail public policy solutions
that require less government intervention as opposed to more," noted Michael
LaFaive, director of the Mackinac Center’s 2004 Debate Workshops program.
This year, the topic being
debated was international in its scope. It reads: "Resolved: That the United
States federal government should establish a foreign policy substantially
increasing its support of United Nations peacekeeping operations."
This year’s debate topic was
particularly timely. LaFaive noted that, "With Iraq, Afghanistan and the horrors
of Sudan in the news daily, this year’s debate workshop was perfectly positioned
to increase students’ knowledge of world affairs."
High school debate coaches
throughout the state receive invitations to these programs in late August. For
only $5.00 per student, teachers can bring students to any one of three sites in
the state to hear lectures from top experts in their respective fields. This
year’s Debate Workshops were held in Grand Rapids, Jackson and Livonia. The
Mackinac Center also provided lunch to all debate participants. The Mackinac
Center constructs a debate Web site where students can find more information on
their topic and have access to an interactive function called, "Ask the Debate
Coach." "Ask the Debate Coach" provides e-mail access to experts who answer
student debaters’ questions about their subject or about debating itself. The
site can be found at
At this year’s Debate
Workshops, Center experts included speakers who described peacekeeping
operations in areas ranging from the Balkans and North Korea, to the whole of
Africa. This year’s speakers were:
• June Arunga, director
of youth outreach at the Inter-Regional Economic Network in Kenya. Ms. Arunga
has lectured in Europe and the United States on such topics as globalization,
trade and economic freedom in Africa. She has produced a BBC documentary
entitled, "The Devil’s Footpath," on the African diaspora and has been a
first-hand witness to U.N. peacekeeping operations.
• Doug Bandow,
syndicated columnist and foreign policy specialist for the Washington,
D.C.-based Cato Institute. His work at the Institute includes a variety of
studies involving United Nations policies. Bandow is also the author of a
forthcoming book, "The Korea Conundrum."
• Gregory Rehmke,
program director at Economic Thinking/E Pluribus Unum Films, a nonprofit
organization in Seattle. He has spoken and written on each year’s national high
school debate topic since the 1980s.
To inquire about signing up
for next year’s Debate Workshops, send an e-mail to MCPP@mackinac.org.