June 23rd – July 10th, 2024
The Michigan National Debate Institute (MNDI) is a policy debate workshop with a curriculum designed for high school debaters of every experience level from top varsity to novice.
The MNDI curriculum is designed by long-time high school coaches from around the country who have served on our faculty for many years. Because the MNDI admits students of every experience level, the faculty has designed appropriate curriculum to address specific needs of students in their individual classes.
Educational Environment. The MNDI has never had a concluding tournament. This format fundamentally alters the orientation of both the students and faculty in a way that encourages preparation for the entire debate season, not just for winning a workshop tournament. This format allows more emphasis to be placed on individual instruction with students on debating technique and topic-specific analysis. The sharing and cooperation encouraged by this format generates a more productive and enjoyable environment for all involved.
Lab leaders for the 2024 MNDI are:
Dr. Matt Munday (Westminster Schools) and Christina Phillips (Notre Dame High School)
David Heidt (Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart) and Jason Peterson (St. Mark’s School of Texas)
To implement this curriculum the central units of instruction are small class groupings. The participants of the MNDI are generally assigned to classes of 16 or fewer students. Each class operates under the full-time instruction of two-three faculty members. These class groups serve as the primary instructional unit throughout the institute. They are supplemented by lectures and small seminar groups taught by additional faculty members.
The primary element of the MNDI curriculum is to instruct the students in the subject content of the national policy debate topic. Priority is placed almost exclusively on mainstream affirmative cases and topic-specific negative strategies. Broad-based survey lectures cover the stock affirmative cases and core negative arguments, including a rigorous defense of the status quo policy. Students at the MNDI receive hands-on and detailed instruction on how to use their research product to compose high-quality, well-organized arguments.
Students at the MNDI participate in a program of extensive argument sharing as a way to expedite and coordinate the development of key affirmative and negative positions. Each lab group is assigned a mainstream affirmative case and plan, and a core negative argument to prepare. The product of each of these labs is delivered via Microsoft Word for every interested student at the MNDI during the second week of the workshop. Students, subsequently, have several fully developed affirmative cases and plans, and enough negative evidence to conduct specific practice sessions.
Classes focus on the mechanics of how to construct arguments, including: logical structure and organization, proper and full source citations and use of qualifications, explanatory labeling, and the ethics of highlighting and use of evidence.
Students at the MNDI are taught a solid foundation of basic debate theory and, where appropriate, instructed in application and refutation of more advanced theory. Classes focus on basic theoretical issues such as stock issues, counterplan topicality and competition, affirmative and negative fiat and agency, conditionality and dispositionality, intrinsicness, topicality and extra-topicality. Advanced topics include partially plan-inclusive counterplans, permutations, and critiques.
MNDI students also receive a comprehensive speaker position lecture series. This lecture series offers instruction for each speaker position including constructive and rebuttal techniques; organization systems; and advanced strategic concepts concerning time allocation, argument, selection and weighing.
Emphasis on Debating Skills
The MNDI places great emphasis on teaching effective communication skills to debaters. Students at the MNDI selection, and weighing are taught that persuasive communication is an essential component of effective argument presentation. Our faculty is committed to the principle that there is no necessary trade-off between analytical substance and persuasive speaking style.
The faculty conducts a rigorous series of debates and rebuttal rework sessions in which students receive extensive individual instruction. Students also participate in an individualized Speaking Clinic where they work intensively on their speaking style and technique.
Strategy and Tactics Mini-Debates
In addition to full practice debates, the faculty conducts a series of mini-debates on the core issues of the national resolution. The mini-debates take place throughout the workshop, beginning on the second day. All the materials necessary to participate in the debates are provided to the students centrally by the workshop. Each set of debates is preceded by an introductory lecture by one of the MNDI faculty members, as well as more detailed instruction by the lab leaders. These debates are highly effective means of teaching the content of the topic as well as a wide range of both affirmative and negative strategies and tactics. Topics for the debates include: the major harm areas, the important disadvantages, key topicality arguments, certain topic-specific counterplans, and critiques. Every student participates in each of these debates.
David Heidt (past attendee) ,
Assistant Director of Debate at the Carrollton School of The Sacred Heart, 1996 National Debate Tournament Champion
“The MNDI was amazing! I got everything that I wanted out of a debate camp’s individual attention from the lab leaders, theory instruction that made sense, and plenty of evidence. More importantly, the MNDI taught me about both the value of research and how to research efficiently. I learned more about argument construction at the MNDI than I did at any other point in my career. I loved it and I would (and did) recommend it to anyone I was coaching.”
Fees for the 2024 MNDI are $3300. Admitted applicants must submit a $500 deposit within one week after notification of admission. The balance of payment is due no later than May 1st.
Applications must be received by June 1st. No application fee is required. Applications for Financial Aid must be received by March 1st.
Students are admitted on primarily a first-apply basis, so early application is strongly advised. A letter of recommendation is not required prior to admission to the MNDI.