Office of the Chancellor

Great Debates

The Great Debates

The Great Debates Series is designed to develop proactive, informed and conscientious citizens and future leaders by providing a forum for respectful and substantive discussion of contentious issues relevant in today’s world. The series will exemplify civil discourse within our campus community through organized debates, hosted by an academic school, Speech and Debate Club at UCI or administrative unit. The topics selected for debate will be relevant and interesting for students, staff and faculty**. A post-debate reception will follow each event so participants can delve deeper into the topic, explore communication styles, or simply enjoy good conversation.

*** The positions taken by debaters during debates do not necessarily reflect their personal viewpoints.

2018 Schedule

Topic: California Proposition 209: Dead End or Blueprint for the Future?

Since 1996, California Proposition 209 has mandated that the state “shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.” The implementation of this proposition resulted in an immediate decline in the admission rates for under-represented minorities at the University of California. Now, over twenty years later, as the nation’s courts continue to consider affirmative action in college admissions, the question is whether California’s unique path has been a dead-end or provides a blueprint for the future. Have the campuses of the University of California changed for the better or the worse since Proposition 209? Has there been overall an improvement or a deterioration in educational opportunities for students from a variety of backgrounds?


Simone Chambers, Professor, Department of Political Science, School of Social Sciences

David Pan, Professor, Department of European Languages and Studies, School of Humanities

William Schonfeld, Research Professor, Department of Political Science, School of Social Sciences

Brook Thomas, Chancellor's Research Professor, Department of English, School of Humanities

Moderator:  Douglas Haynes, Professor, Department of History; Vice Provost for Academic Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Where: Crystal Cove Auditorium

When: March 1, 5-6:30pm

Register Here

Workshop series

This workshop series provides students with a unique opportunity to develop skills and ways of thinking about debate, argument, and persuasion in contemporary society. Each expert workshop presenter and facilitator focuses on a particular aspect of debate, from effective listening to considering multiple viewpoints. Join us for an interactive learning experience to help you consider how you might become more persuasive and argue more effectively.

Where: The Writing Center, Science Library

When: Select Wednesdays, 4-5:30pm

Space is limited. RSVP for the workshop below.

2017-18 Schedule

Below are the dates for the workshop series. 


Oct. 25 "Escaping the Echo Chamber: Seeking Out Various Opinions & Playing Devil’s Advocate"
Amber Clontz & Jonathan Alexander
Register Here

Jan. 10 – “Beyond Pro/Con: Complexity and Nuance in Argument” 
Brian Folken
Register Here

Jan. 24 – “Telling a Story with Data: a PowerPoint/Keynote Workshop” 
James D. Herbert
Register Here
Feb. 7 – “Unruly Rhetorics: Some Problems with Civility in Public Discourse”
Susan Jarratt

Register Here

Feb. 14 – “Do Wake the Neighbors: Navigating the Town Hall”
Courtney Santos
Feb. 28 – “Getting Personal: When & How the Personal Matters in Argumentationn”
Kerri McCanna
April 4 – “The Standoff: How to Navigate Incompatible Premises” 
Brad Queen
April 25 – “I Respectfully Disagree: Staying Friends after the Fact”
Percival Guevarra
May 16 – “‘Advocacy Update: Writing for Social Media”
Lindsey Allgood