The Rhode Island Urban Debate League engages students in policy debate programs in order to improve academic outcomes and increase college readiness.
The Rhode Island Urban Debate League empowers urban students to expand their minds and project their voices through debate. We equip students with the academic skills, leadership abilities, and ambition to succeed in high school and graduate well-prepared for college, employment, and engaged citizenship.
The Rhode Island Urban Debate League extends (a) the school day through after-school practices, (b) the school week through Saturday tournaments, and (c) the school year through a two-week-long Summer Debate Institute. Teams are coached by high school teachers and supported by college student volunteers. In order to prepare for monthly tournaments, debaters engage with various complex critical texts, including scholarly journals, philosophical manuscripts, and local and national newspapers. Tournaments typically comprise three to five 90-minute rounds of competition. Each year the League supports a minimum of six tournaments, including competition with teams from the Boston Debate League.
Policy debate is a research-based speech competition in which students argue for and against a resolution that advocates for change in federal government policy. Students learn and develop “cases” presenting a specific plan for solving the problem implicit in the resolution (e.g. international conflict, poverty, natural resource scarcity). Debaters spend hundreds of hours outside the school day researching public policy and practicing spoken and written argumentation.
In 1999, the Providence Urban Debate League (PUDL) was founded through a Royce Fellowship at the Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University. Beginning as a pilot program at Classical, Feinstein, and Hope High Schools, the League continued to expand to Mount Pleasant and Woonsocket High Schools and was renamed the Rhode Island Urban Debate League (RIUDL) in 2003. In 2007, the RIUDL held its first annual summer debate Institute. In 2010, the RIUDL incorporated as an independent organization and began receiving “strengthening” support from the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues (NAUDL). Currently, the RIUDL is physically housed by the Swearer Center at Brown University, and engages 12 schools, 5 school districts, and over 150 students.