More than any other forensic activity at PHC, Debate teaches students to think classically as they wrestle with, understand, and respond to social, political and cultural ideologies that they may disagree with. Debate provides opportunities for each student to develop their professional and leadership skills; skills they will need to lead successful careers as ambassadors for Christ.
PHC teams participate in Civic Debate which is a research-based competition that provides students with opportunities to contribute policy solutions for a global civic society, and aids in their development of professional presentation and leadership skills. Intercollegiate debate tournaments are organized by the Civic Debate Conference and are used as a tool for engagement with leaders on social justice and religious freedom issues, U.S. and European Union issues, and other cutting edge domestic and international issues.
PHC students have debated or made presentations before panels of qualified experts, including Ambassadors at the European Union and French Embassies in Washington, DC, and civil rights leaders at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. Patrick Henry College students are frequently complimented for their thorough preparation, outstanding presentation skills, and their winsome speaking style. There are typically two competitive Civic Debate formats, present and defend or cross-examination. Our students excel in both arenas.
PHC also competes in the International Public Debate Association (IPDA). Begun in 1997 and currently active in 15 states and growing, IDPA promotes a debate format that emphasizes public speaking and real-world persuasion skills over the use of evidence and speed. The mission of IDPA "is to provide an opportunity for individuals to develop their advocacy skills in a forum that promotes appropriate and effective communication." IPDA is predominately an extemporaneous style of debate. PHC students are typically very gifted in this unique and challenging form of competition.
Patrick Henry College hosted its inaugural NATO Summit Debates, where undergraduate students from multiple schools competed at the tournament. PHC students swept the tournament, winning four out of the top five team awards, as well as four out of the top five individual speaker awards.
The Schuman Challenge, an annual civic debate competition, was hosted by the delegation of the European Union in D.C. Teams of three from colleges and universities around the nation engaged in a question and answer period on an international policy--this year's teams had to answer the question, "How should the EU and the U.S. cooperate in Afghanistan following the U.S. military withdrawal?"
Competitive debate motivates students to exceed the bare minimum of knowledge, and builds the ability to articulate and defend a position against repeated attacks. Because of its rigorous and effective approach to education, forensics at PHC are not extra-curricular but co-curricular, a fully-recognized and vital element of PHC Academics.