Novice Policy Debate
Research | Argumentation | Persuasion
Designed by successful coaches with teaching and classroom experience, our program offers a fast-paced, yet engaging curriculum that equips students with the skills they need for success at their first policy debate tournament.
From day 1, we emphasize debate fundamentals, introducing students to argumentation theory and providing students with a carefully constructed evidence packet designed to help guide them through the topic.
Morning sessions are spent covering new debate concepts and topic information through engaging lectures and interactive lessons. In the afternoons, students engage in debates, applying skills from earlier lessons. Evenings are reserved for students to work one-on-one with the instructors, reviewing concepts, delivering practice speeches, or discussing new arguments.
Beginner or no policy debate experience
Summer 2021 Sessions:
Session 1: Monday, July 5, 2021 through Friday, July 17, 2021
Session 2: Monday, July 19, 2021 through Friday July 31, 2021
We will offer a comprehensive curriculum that prepares students to debate and research the upcoming year’s topic along with perennial debate arguments. Each lab will focus on the three pillars of research, argumentation, and persuasion. Students will conduct their research using the Harvard Libraries, the largest private library in the world; will learn to construct strategic, compelling arguments; and will practice speaking with clarity, conviction, and passion.
About Our Program
Benefits of an Online Experience
Although we are disappointed that we cannot host students at the beautiful Harvard campus, we are incredibly excited about the opportunities an online camp offers. We have been working around the clock to make sure students experience all of the things that helped us fall in love with debate so many summers ago. We are designing fun new material every day, but here are a few things you can expect already:
- Exciting lectures delivered live via Zoom from top experts in the topic area. Each session will include a Q&A session for students and be recorded so that students can return and review materials later or catch up on something they miss.
- Engaging, student-directed lessons that take advantage of fun online learning tools and give students the opportunity to breakout in groups, teach and learn from their peers, pursue their specific research interests, and make new friends.
- Individualized feedback and the option to reserve specific meeting times with instructors daily.
- Challenging curriculum that you can return to all year- each assignment will be posted on the class page, along with additional assignments that students can complete to learn more. We offer 2-3 different level of assignment for each concept so that students can challenge themselves during camp or return later in the year to continue learning.
- Each evening we will host a viewing party to show debates or relevant topic movies. These will be educational, but it is also an opportunity for students to hang out and get to know other debaters online.
Sample Daily Schedule
10:00-12:00p Morning Mini Assignment & Individual Meetings
12:30-2:30p Topic Lecture with Q&A
2:30-3:00p Afternoon Break
3:00p-5:00p Afternoon Lab & Practice Debates
5:00p-6:00p Dinner Break
6:00p-8:00p Evening Lab Watch Parties & Individual Meetings
Constructing strategic arguments
Advanced research practices
Persuasive and clear speaking
Tournament preparation techniques
Hear From US
What Students and Parents Say
Online is generally very difficult to make quite as productive but the adaptation from in person camp was amazing, and very well organized, and the lab leaders had great ways of keeping us from getting bored.
It never got boring like everything else in quarantine. It's just really hard to sit in front of a computer all day, but that doesn't apply specifically to this.
Everything went very smoothly. I really enjoyed online camp and this opportunity.
I loved so many things, it’s hard to choose. The game nights and movie nights were great, I learned so much from the guests, and the debates stretched my comfort zone but I got a lot of experience from them. The different breakouts and variety were great. They created an immersive experience without me having to leave my room. I can’t think of anything I would want to improve. This camp was awesome!
I already have experience in varsity policy, but considering I haven't been very consistent, this has been a good way for me to review and prep for the coming year as well as gather topic info.
Excellent Teaching Staff
Novice Debate Curriculum Coordinator & Lab Leader
Maggie is the Associate Director of Debate at Harvard University. She has found success in coaching, both at the high school and collegiate level. In high school, her teams have advanced to the late elimination rounds of nearly every major national tournament, including, Harvard, Emory, the University of Kentucky, the University of Michigan, the University of Texas, and the NDCA National Championship. As a debate coach at Harvard, her teams have won multiple national college tournaments, advanced to the late elimination rounds of the National Debate Tournament (NDT), and been awarded The Copeland Award for the most successful season performance.
Maggie has always enjoyed working with young high school students, and in the summer of 2018, she decided to establish the HDC novice policy debate workshop. While many debate camps offered an excellent camp experience for already established debaters, she felt that many students missed out on the joy of debate because there weren’t enough resources for those that didn’t already have successful programs back home. To remedy this, she, with the help of nationally successful high school coaches, worked to develop a program devoted entirely to the success of young, inexperienced students.
In the classroom, Maggie emphasizes active student engagement and participation. Her curriculum focuses on activity based learning, working to build a strong foundation in argumentation fundamentals and instilling confidence in young debaters.
Austen Yorko is a teacher and policy debate coach at Montgomery Bell Academy (MBA) in Nashville, TN. He has successfully coached teams advancing to the deep elimination rounds of nearly every major national high school debate tournament in the country. In the 2018-2019 season alone, his teams have won 1st place at Emory, Berkeley, University of Michigan, St. Marks, the Greenhill Round Robin, and the Glenbrooks. In 2019, his team won the National Championship tournament hosted by the prestigious National Debate Coaches Association (NDCA) and most recently, his team won the online Tournament of Champions (eTOC). He is also the 2020 recipient of the Rising Star Award, recognizing his coaching excellence. In order to win this award, coaches must be nominated by their students.
Prior to arriving at MBA, Austen was also a successful policy debater. He started his debate career at Wooster High School in Wooster, Ohio before continuing at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. During his time at Trinity, Austen cleared to the elimination rounds of multiple prestigious tournaments and earned a qualifying spot to the National Debate Tournament (NDT) 3 out of his 4 years.
In his current position at MBA, Austen employs a student-centric approach to coaching and teaching. In his own words, he explains, “I believe that the best route for training and encouraging young debaters is to listen to their needs and wants, figuring out how to best maximize the skills and styles that the individual students are most comfortable with and most excited about learning.”
“I’m really excited for my time here and getting to know the students. I’m really passionate about what I do and I hope for students to enjoy what they’re learning by learning new techniques and ways of thinking that will help them thrive.”
Kanza Jafri is from Dallas, Texas. Currently, she is doing her Bachelors at the University of North Texas where she is majoring in Consumer Experience Management with a minor in Legal Studies. She has been a part of the Speech & Debate Community since high school where she competed on the Texas Forensics Association and National Speech and Debate Circuit. After graduating high school she has been a consultant and judge for both Hebron High School and Southlake High School’s Speech and Debate team where students that she has worked with have competed and placed in State and National Tournaments. She loves helping students strengthen their public speaking skills and channeling their confidence for them to succeed in tournaments and the real world. Her time with the Harvard Debate Summer Council Workshop includes being a Resident Assistant for students and judging at the Harvard Tournament and at the workshop. Currently, she is working at Texas Academy of Math Science at UNT where she is a Program Advisor for their Speech and Debate Program.
Tripp Rebrovick, PhD
Tripp Rebrovick, PhD, is the Director of Debate at Harvard University. He has a BA from Harvard and a PhD from Johns Hopkins University. Tripp has over twelve years of experience teaching at summer workshops and has worked with students of all skill levels. While a debater, he was the top speaker at the TOC, winner of NFL Nationals, and a four-time elimination-round participant at the NDT.
Ayush Midha is an assistant debate coach for the Harvard Debate Council. He attended and debated for Harvard College, where he was consistently ranked as a top debater. He recieved the Copeland Award for best overall seasonal performance and debated in the deep elims of the NDT 3 years in a row. There are few college policy debate tournaments that he hasn’t won.
In addition to his competitive record, he has proved successful as a coach. For the past 3 years he has coached at The Harker School, where his teams have advanced to the elimination rounds of most major national tournaments. This will be Ayush’s third year working with the HDCSW.
Workshop Director & Guest Lecturer
Sherry is a lifelong debate coach, serving as Coach of Debate at Harvard University since 1987. She maintains an active presence in the high school forensics community where she has taught at many summer debate camps, directed the Harvard National Invitational Forensics Tournament, and served as editor-in-chief of Planet Debate. Sherry is a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Debate Tournament and spearheads the latter’s Healthy Debater Initiative.
Register for 2021
Applications are due by January 15, 2021.