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Director of Forensics receives grant to help build a Sustainable China Debate Association

Posted by:
January 20, 2013

Melissa Franke, PLU Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication and Director of Forensics, is making a difference by helping build a Sustainable China Debate Association.

The project originated when Willamette University’s Dr. Robert Trapp proposed a project to build a network of debate partnerships between the US and China. An anonymous donor generously funded it. Franke received a $62,000 grant in conjunction with Willamette.

“This project attempts to identify and support strong regional centers and leaders who can host tournaments, run training sessions and continue to get more schools involved in debating in China,” Franke says. “Our goal is to get more schools involved and have Debate operate at regional levels, instead of only offering a few elite national competitions per year. The regional competitions and training will allow more students to get involved.”

Pacific Lutheran University is one of six US partners in the project. Franke’s role is to partner with universities in the Northeast region of China to run three events comprised of debate training and tournaments in and around Dalian, Liaoning, PRC. Franke helps the Chinese partner hosting the tournament to coordinate and run the tournament, and gives lectures during the training.

Franke has vast experience with international debate, having attended 10 debate competitions outside the US prior to this project, including two in China.

“We have completed the first training and tournament and are in the process of assessing data. We had a successful competition at Dalian Nationalities University in Dalian in December,” Franke says. “There were 20 Chinese universities in attendance. Chinese students debated about affordable housing in China, China’s space program, same-sex marriage in China, government corruption, and other topics.”

They are in the process of planning the next event, which will be in March.