Policy Debate Program
What is Policy Debate?
Policy Debate at the University of Houston features a competitive debate team, a public debate series, and an exciting cluster of courses. The program draws on rhetorical theory and requires research into complex matters of public policy such as energy, the environment, and health care.
By demanding research, evidence, and reasoning, collegiate policy debate pushes students to understand contemporary political issues and to make informed, real-world decisions. Tournaments foster public speaking ability, encourage civic engagement, and develop leadership.
Policy Debate at Houston is open to all students, from novices to seasoned competitors.
Policy Debate's Rich History & Bright Future
The Policy Debate program revives a longstanding tradition of debate at the University of Houston. Active intercollegiate competition began in 1949, and the team’s history includes a number of highlights:
- Participation at 22 National Debate Tournaments, the premiere collegiate competition
- Numerous prizes for Top Individual Speaker at the National Debate Tournament, including the first female to win (’57, Patricia Stallings)
- Distinguished alumni who have gone on to become regional and national policymakers, including CEOs, judges on the Texas Supreme Court, political candidates, and partners at top law firms
- Among the largest and most dynamic cities in the United States, Houston provides many opportunities for community engagement and serious consideration of complex public issues.
Through partnerships with high school debate programs such as HUDL, the Houston Urban Debate League, and the annual public debate series, the Policy Debate Program engages the community in a dialogue about pressing policy issues. Future collaborations with the University of Houston Law Center, the Phronesis Program in Politics and Ethics, the Medicine & Society program, and the Leadership Studies initiative provide further opportunities for development.