Debattierklub Wien, the Vienna Debating society, was founded in 2004 with the aim to bring university students together to create controversy in friendship. Hence, the club’s first name “Kontroverse Gespräche” – controversial conversations. The aim is still the same, but many things have changed since then. First, the club stretched out to attend its first tournaments in the lively German-speaking debate circuit and to attract members from all of the universities of Vienna. These developments multiplied and exploded in late 2009 and early 2010, when the society held its first English debate, participated at the 2010 World Universities Debating Championships and organised the first debating tournament in Vienna, the “Zeit-Debatte Wien 2010”.
From late 2010, DKWien’s activities were definitely not limited to Austrian borders any more, instead the society set sail to international competitive success. Austria’s first English-language tournament, DKWien’s Vienna Intervarsity (Vienna IV 2011) attracted teams and judges more than a dozen countries. Vienna IV 2011 was also the starting point for DKWien’s cooperation with the law firm Baker & McKenzie. Since then the annual Baker & McKenzie Debate Club competition selects one future trainee out of the best law students in Vienna by the means of competitive debating.
14, or the number of countries represented at Vienna IV, we would soon exceed more than twofold in counting the tournaments we participate annually, leading some to replace “DKWien” with “DKWorld”. After breaking teams at multiple competitions into semi-finals and some finals, 2012 saw another step forward with two DKWien teams each breaking at two competitions. “DKW” can now finally be read as “DKWin” with Mark, Jakob and Christoph securing the win in the Southern German Championship last April. 2013’s Vienna IV has been the most international debating tournament on the European continent since then and was another huge success.
When Debattierklub Wien started out as a university students society, it crossed the border to secondary education with the first debates for high school students in 2011. Debating promotes critical thinking over established norms and policies, it fosters sportsmanship in a quick-witted and passionate competition and makes friends of debate opponents. Debattierklub Wien is helping an ever-growing number of high schools in Vienna to set up debate clubs for their students.
Now we feel that is time to step forward not just by a small step, but by a giant leap, and therefore we are bidding to host the European University Debating Championship 2015 in Vienna. As the Danube sends down fresh water to cool debaters’ minds and feet at EUDC 2015, Vienna University of Economics and Business is about to complete its fresh brand-new campus that will host the competition in two years’ time. Hosting 60+ debating teams for Vienna IV 2013 was a fine warm-up, and now are looking forward to hosting 250 teams in 2015. With that we are already enjoying the outlook into a new and very prosperous chapter of DKWien’s history.