The European Universities Debating Championships (EUDC) are an annual tournament among the debating societies of all Universities in Europe. The first championships took place in Rotterdam in 1999. Back then EUDC was a small 32 team tournament with only a handful universities participating. Since then the competition has grown steadily. Vienna EUDC is expected to host a total of 250 teams from all over the continent. Top-universities like Cambridge and Oxford will send their best debaters in order to fight for the illustrate title of the European Champion in competitive University Debating.
In competitive University Debating students train their argumentative skills as well as their general knowledge and their rhetorical abilities. Students hold speeches on current topics and try convince judges of their stance. The most prevalent format (British Parliamentary Format) imitates the debates taking place in the Lower House of the British Parliament. In teams of two, two teams argue for, two against a motion on a current topic. The sides are assigned randomly and must be mutually exclusive, so that the teams cannot agree with each other. Instead each team’s aim is to bring the most convincing arguments for their side, in alternating speeches of 7 min. Experienced adjudicators decide whose arguments were more persuasive and give feedback for the students to improve. The best debaters compete at huge competitions like the European Championships.
Since the teams do not get more than 15 minutes preparation time for each debate, debaters gather vast amounts of general knowledge in order to prevail in the debates. The speeches do not only train the students’ eloquence but mainly their ability to logically analyse arguments. The reason for this is that the adjudicators listen carefully who made the better explained their arguments when they decide the ranking. Thus debating is seen as a very valuable training for ambitious students who facilitate these skills in their future careers as well as their present studies. Moreover, debating teaches students to uphold a critical mind and an analyst view on present issues. The debates usually relate to current issues faced by the European Union, governments, individuals or corporations. As a consequence debaters very deeply engage with these fields and automatically learn to think up both sides when they are presented with an issue to decide upon. Therefore debating is vital ‘school of democracy’ for future decision makers.
University debaters worldwide build a strong international network. All over the world, debating is seen as one of the most powerful tools of education and the international debating community is very strongly connected across borders. At previous Vienna debating tournaments teams from over 25 countries showed up and Vienna EUDC will be at least as international. In general, debating and Vienna EUDC foster cultural exchange and understanding between students in Europe and beyond.
Vienna EUDC will take place from 2 – 8 August 2015 at Campus WU and is organised by the Vienna Debating Society DKWien and the Debattierklub Wien GmbH. The team is lead by Convener and long term DKWien debater Stefan Zweiker.