Seven Week K Lab
June 17th – July 30th, 2021
The University of Michigan Kritik lab teaches students to analyze, understand, and deploy arguments from a diverse and challenging array of scholarly subject areas. Students are exposed to challenging, thought-provoking literature, given in-depth lectures on core precepts of critical debate and innovations in critical arguments, offered hundreds of one-on-one opportunities to engage instructors, and assigned dozens of practice rounds and other exercises to translate their new knowledge into practice.
Fees for the 2021 Kritik Lab are $4,000 and a $65 application fee. If interested, you can also attend the Kritik Lab for dates and prices parallel to the MNDI ($2000), MNDI Extension Week ($2400), Classic ($3100), and Classic Plus ($3500).
Seven Week Kritik Lab Instructors:
Marquis Bell-Ard is a former debater for the University of West Georgia and the University of Oklahoma. During his debate career, Marquis earned multiple first-round at-large bids and top 10 speaker awards at the National Debate Tournament. Marquis was also named the top speaker at the CEDA National Championship in 2015. Marquis has coached University of California Berkeley, Georgetown University and the University of Michigan – culminating in numerous Copeland rankings and twice having coached the Top Speaker of the National Debate Tournament. Marquis has also created symposiums at universities across the country centered on debate and black studies with leading academics from Frank Wilderson, Anna Agathangelou, Marquis Bey and many others.
James Mollison is a doctoral candidate in Philosophy at Purdue University, where he is also the director of debate for the Brian Lamb School of Communications and the Philosophy Department. His research interests focus primarily on 19th and 20th century European philosophy, though he is also interested in ethical theory, the history of philosophy, and argumentation and debate. James received his MA in Philosophy from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He also competed for Loyola’s debate team. He advanced to the semifinals in the national championship tournaments of British Parliamentary debate, Parliamentary debate, and Policy debate formats. In 2012, he was the third-place team and third speaker at the National Debate Tournament. He has helped coach teams to the semifinals of the National Debate Tournament and to the quarterfinals of the Tournament of Champions.
Dr. Sydney Pasquinelli
Dr. Sydney Pasquinelli is the Director of Debate at Wayne State University and the Director of the Detroit Urban Debate League. She has also been a Policy and LD Coach for Edgemont High School since 2015. Sydney has also coached policy debate for: Groves High School, Wake Forest University, University of Pittsburgh, Oklahoma University, and Stanford University. She has helped coach several teams into elimination rounds at the TOC, CEDA, and the NDT.
Giorgio Rabbini is a debater at the University of Michigan, where, as a freshman, he reached the finals of the 2019 Franklin R. Shirley Tournament at Wake Forest and is a participant at the Herbert L. James Dartmouth Round Robin. As a high school student at North Broward Prep (FL), Giorgio was the top speaker and winner of the 2019 Tournament of Champions. In 2018, Giorgio won the NDCA National Championship and the Baker Award for season-long excellence. Additionally, Giorgio won or reached the finals of nearly every major high school debate tournament including Greenhill, Michigan, The Glenbrooks, Blake, and the Southern Bell Forum. Giorgio has extensive experience and success in researching and deploying strategies across the argumentative spectrum. In the summer of 2019, Giorgio was an instructor at the Global Debate Symposium where he taught students scholarship from a wide variety of critical theories.
Quaram Robinson currently an assistant debate coach at Wake Forest University. She debated Round Rock High School in Texas and ended up getting to out rounds of the Tournament of Champions and winning Texas State Tournament. In college, she debated for the University of Kansas, receiving three first round at-large bids to the National Tournament, three finals appearances at national championships, and ultimately winning the National Debate Tournament in 2018. She was recently named Debater of the Decade by her peers in the community, in 2020. Quaram strongly believes as an instructor at The University of Massachusetts Amherst where she is currently getting her PhD that developing a strong curriculum is critical to students engaging debate in a way that keeps them excited.
Brian Rubaie is the head debate coach and an MBA candidate at the University of Iowa as well as an assistant debate coach at Greenhill School. His summer research interests include structural criticisms and topic-oriented criticisms and critical affirmatives. Brian graduated with honors from the University of Texas-Dallas. At UTD, Brian was named the CEDA Debater of the Year, finished sixth in the Copeland rankings, won a national tournament, earned multiple NDT speaker awards, was twice the undefeated top seed at CEDA, and reached the quarterfinals of the 2009 NDT. At Iowa, Brian’s debaters became one of only two schools in college debate history to close out a national championship finals (CEDA 2018) and have reached the late elimination rounds of every national tournament. At Greenhill, Brian has helped coach the champions of Glenbrooks, St. Mark’s, and Blake and semifinalists at the TOC and NDCA.
What former students say about the University of Michigan Kritik Lab:
“The UMich K Lab enabled me to progress my debate career in a way I wouldn’t have been able to without my time at Michigan. The lab leaders were knowledgeable, passionate, and funny, and each one specialized in teaching arguments I was genuinely interested in learning about. I gained an in-depth understanding of critical theory through reading primary sources and engaging in group lectures and discussions about material that paid huge dividends in my ability to plan, write, and execute my own arguments during the season.”
Rema Bhat, Ronald Reagan High School (TX), 2020 Tournament of Champions Qualifier, 12/31/2019
“The Kritik Lab was one of the most educational, entertaining, and enjoyable experiences of my life. It taught me how to research and execute original arguments in a manner that is both novel and strategic and shaped my understanding of the content and value of debate arguments. Even online, I was able to form personal connections with many of the best debate minds in the country, and form lasting friendships. The lab leaders all made an effort to get to know me personally and work on my individual growth. The experience left me with memories, relationships, and skills that will last a lifetime.”
“Participating in the Kritik Lab over the summer at the University of Michigan was a one of a kind experience. Working with some of the great minds in the debate community as well as receiving daily lectures that expanded my knowledge in critical literature was only the start — I was able to not only improve my knowledge in how critical arguments interact with traditional arguments in contest round competition, but I was able to formulate my own arguments, affirmative cases, negative strategies, and more. This lab gave me the ability to truly take my debate talents to the next level.”
Ryan James, McDonogh School (MD), Winner and Second Speaker at the 2017 Tournament of Champions, 11/30/2016
“I’m so grateful to have been part of the K Lab during the summer before my senior year and cannot recommend it enough. The lab leaders were incredibly supportive and engaging, and the debaters I learned from and with were inspiringly talented and creative. I think what made the Michigan K Lab truly unique, though, was its heavy emphasis on deep engagement with the literature and critical understandings of various arguments–both of which not only set me up for success in debate, but also piqued my interest in social theory and led to many of my intellectual explorations beyond debate. Throughout the summer, we were challenged to think critically about debate as a communicative activity and make decisions about the ways we want to engage it and the values we want to espouse within it, which was an extremely valuable practice that helped organize a lot of the arguments we learned about into a broader perspectival framework. All in all, it was a certainly rewarding experience, both competitively and personally.”
Cayla Lee, Interlake High School (WA) and Harvard University, 1/8/2020
Shaunak Lokre, Barstow School (MO), 2019 Tournament of Champions Qualifier, 12/31/2019
“The Michigan Kritik Lab was undoubtedly the camp experience that propelled my career the furthest, putting me in contact with some of the sharpest debate minds. What I found most helpful was the diverse intellectual backgrounds of the lab leaders – I could inquire about pretty much any angle of kritikal argumentation and there was someone incredibly knowledgeable there to answer questions. Even just surrounding myself with incredibly driven kritikal debaters from all around the country helped me get a great feel for all the different styles and techniques utilized in K debate. I would definitely recommend the Michigan Kritik Lab to anyone who wants to expand their arsenal to include diverse argumentation from a variety of intellectual canons. What I gained most from my experience in the lab was literacy in many different schools of thought, and I believe that to be a unique result of the staff who run the lab. Still to this day I go for arguments and strategies I first encountered in my summer at Michigan.”
Nishad Neelakandan, McDonogh School (MD), Winner of the 2017 Tournament of Champions and University of California and Berkeley Debater, 1/2/2020
“The UMich K Lab is a phenomenal experience for anyone interested in learning and debating the K. The structure allows you to gain robust knowledge of critical theory in many fields while maintaining a high technical proficiency that can be utilized to win debates. My love for the K Lab stems from this balance because it allows me to engage the theory I love while learning to win the debates I love to be in. For those students with goals to go above and beyond, the K Lab will reward and enable your hard work so that only the sky is the limit. Each lab leader wants the best out of each student and is willing to push you to any goal you set. The lab leaders are all great teachers, fantastically smart, and will make sure they can help you work through the toughest articles, ideas, and debates. The atmosphere is unmatched. The fellow attendees are some of the hardest-working, smartest and nicest people I’ve ever met. Each person always seemed ready to work and ready to cooperate to help the lab move forward. Even when being online can make it hard to interact with other people, I had one of the most fun experiences of my life. I would whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone considering attending.”
Townes Schultz, Westside High School (TX), 2021 Tournament of Champions Qualifier, 12/28/2020
“My experience with the Kritik Lab was unforgettable and absolutely enlightening. The instructors, who were by all means phenomenal, not only taught us the gist of numerous philosophies, they also made sure that we could communicate those complex concepts in simple, concrete forms (i.e. examples and performances) that judges can digest, weigh, and understand. Through this emphasis on communication as such, it was unveiled to me that knowing things is good, but sharing and transmitting that knowledge to someone else effectively is the mark of excellence. I came away not only with new knowledge about Baudrillard, Bataille, Deleuze, and Race Theory, but additionally, with a comprehensive understanding of how meta-level arguments truly operate in relation to debate as an activity, which has enhanced the specificity, detail, and magnitude of the arguments I now choose to read.”
Elan Wilson, Hendrickson High School and Baylor University (TX), 11/29/2016
What We Do at the University of Michigan K Lab
When the “K Lab” was founded in the summer of 2016, it was the first lab of its kind: an entire class, housed at the nation’s most prestigious debate camp, dedicated to teaching advanced high school students critical theory and its multifarious applications in debate. In each of the summers since, the K Lab has re-convened in Ann Arbor to continue teaching and training the next generation of critique debaters.
Over the course of a summer in the K Lab, students can expect to gain familiarity not only with the latest trends in academic scholarship and debate, but also with the foundational texts and theorists that form the scaffolding on which trends grow. In the K Lab, we believe that innovation and experimentation in debate requires an extremely thorough and refined foundational theoretical knowledge base. Given this, at the K Lab we aim to teach in such a way as to produce the most capacious students; debaters leave our lab able to speak comfortably in and around a wide variety of critical genres.
The K Lab is a demanding but extremely rewarding summer educational experience. The Lab’s past success speaks for itself; however, in addition to this, students who attend the K Lab gain an early aptitude for what it means to succeed in college courses. We teach our lab at a collegiate level, which seems daunting at first, but given the flexibility and time investment of our faculty has, in our experience, resulted in increased student buy-in to the K Lab project and enthusiasm for high level critical inquiry. Furthermore, after the introductory period of the K Lab, students are given an opportunity to work together and shape the K Lab curriculum going forward, expressing interests in emerging or long-standing fields and designing research agendas to explore those with the assistance of our faculty.
At the K Lab we pride ourselves on doing the most rigorous theoretical work in the country, and we have an exceptionally qualified faculty that facilitates said work. However, the K Lab experience is irreducible to the lectures we give, the files we produce or the debates we have. Upon completion of a summer with us, K Lab students become K Lab Scholars, entitled to special returning student privileges such as leading a research group or giving a lecture. To become a K Lab Scholar is to become part of an elite group of alumni, a network of bright young people stretching all across the upper echelons of high school and college policy debate.
The K Lab is both a challenge and an opportunity. One of our goals is to meet each student where they are at and to help them get where they want to go.
We aim to produce students who take joy in learning, take risks in thinking and take pleasure in competing at the highest levels of policy debate.
“Those who stay will be champions.”
University of Michigan K Lab Curriculum:
Black Feminist Scholarship
Cybernetics/New Media Philosophy, including Black Cybernetics
Gender & Women’s Studies
19th and 20th century German Philosophy (Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Adorno, Benjamin, Heidegger)
20th century French Philosophy (Bataille, Baudrillard, Deleuze, Derrida, Foucault, Virilio)
20th century Italian Philosophy (Agamben, Berardi, Lazzarato, Negri, Vattimo)
Marxism & Post-Marxism incl. Semiocapitalism
Political Theology/Secularism Studies
Queerness & Performance Studies
Critical Affirmation & Critical Negation
Critical File Creation and Preparation
Critical Research Skills
Cross Examination Skills
Film Analysis (of debates and documentaries)
Final Rebuttals a Guide
Intralab and Interlab Debates
Judge Adaptation & Preferences
Speech Redo’s and Speaking Drills
Topic Specific Education-
Critical Topic Lecture
Critical Responses to Policy Lectures
Historical Survey Lecture
Topic Examples Lecture
Previous Guest Speakers-
For Returning K Lab Scholars-
Alumni Demo Debates
Alumni Requested Lectures
Alumni Small Workshops
Research Group Leadership