Thanks to the Engaged Department Grant Program, the MNUDL will be partnering with the University Of Minnesota’s Department Of Communication Studies to connect more university Communications students with volunteering opportunities at debate tournaments. The grant is designed to inspire greater community engagement within the department’s curriculum – creating this wonderful opportunity for students studying communication to bring their studies full circle and act as volunteer judges for middle school debaters.


Program Director Travis Ormsby discussing policy debate with U of M students.

Young debaters will benefit from the knowledge and experience of the participating students. Furthermore, the Engaged Department Grant will allow university students to apply their studies and experience in a position of authority to help provide our young debaters with a fair, constructive and fun debate experience.

Ron Greene, Chair of the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Minnesota and member of the MNUDL’s Advisory Board, explains that the “partnership will increase the available opportunities for middle school students to debate by increasing and diversifying the judging pool as well as improving the argumentation skills of undergraduates by holding them accountable for comprehending, analyzing, and evaluating the quality of the arguments delivered by middle school students.”

For middle school debaters, being able to speak authoritatively to an adult audience is a profound experience that inverts much of their educational experience – rather than listening to adults, the adults listen to them!

We hope to see great success and growth in this unique connection between the University of Minnesota and Augsburg College that will benefit hundreds of students of all ages for years to come.