The first annual Gerry Philipsen Debate Forum honors retiring professor

The UW Debate Union, led by lecturer Michael Souders, is sponsoring a new series that honors retiring Professor Gerry Philipsen’s dedication to debate as an educational and knowledge-building tool. The Philipsen Debate Forum is an annual event featuring students engaging in public debates over major public issues.

“The idea currently is to create an event wherein students who have never competed in debate before learn basic skills and have the opportunity to perform a debate in front a live audience – one that is fairly large,” Souders said. “It helps students who are participating get a feeling on utilizing their skills that a regular classroom debate can’t give them.”

This year students will cover the topics of NSA surveillance (Nov. 21), gun control (Dec. 3), and GMO labeling (Dec. 5). Although the students are not expert debaters as they have been studying it for only a quarter, it is an opportunity for the public and alumni to see what a UW education in argument gets them.

“As Dr. Philipsen has remarked and I agree with, debate is a skill for everyone and the experience of it, even if it’s not something you dedicate your studies to exploring, changes your view both on arguments you see and those who are making arguments,” Souders said. “You realize both how important argument is to helping us make good and sound decisions, change or maintain our beliefs and opinions and you see how difficult it is to make effective arguments.”

Please join us for the founding Gerry F. Philipsen Debate Forum on December 5 at 8 p.m. in CMU 120. If you are unable to make any of the debates, check here for livestreaming, audio, and/or video recordings.