The Public Debate Program (PDP) is a national and international educational outreach initiative established by the Claremont Colleges Debate Union, centered at Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, California. John Meany, Director of Forensics at Claremont McKenna, administers the PDP and other outreach programs. He created the Public Debate Program, which includes the High School Public Debate Program (HSPDP)Middle School Public Debate Program (MSPDP), Youth Public Debate Program (YPDP – dedicated program for 5th-6th grade students), International Public Debate Program (IPDP – international secondary school debating for US students). Kate Shuster and John Meany initially created the and Kate continues as the MSPDP program director.

The PDP operates throughout the US and in 31 countries. Hundreds of thousands of students participate in class and contest trainings and events annually. Students participate in HSPDP, MSPDP, and YPDP school-based debate leagues. Individual accredited schools register for and participate in HSPDP, MSPDP, and YPDP programs (afterschool enrichment centers and test taking centers, external and private debate clubs, hybrid teams consisting of members from more than a single school, etc. are not PDP eligible).Teachers use PDP public speaking, argumentation, research, and refutation educational materials to integrate oral and written communication skills throughout the curriculum. The PDP works with major non-profit educational organizations to offer debate training and class and contest opportunities to hundreds of thousands of teachers and students each year. Individual USA high school students audition for placement in the IPDP – they debate in multiple international debate formats, attend international tournaments including the Pan American, Eurasian, China National, and European championships, and participate in international debate exchanges.

The PDP sponsors multiple national and international debate championships each year. The PDP was the host of the 2010 and 2015 Pan American Debating Championships, the premiere international high school debate competition for debate delegations from countries throughout the Americas. The PDP will host an HSPDP championship in April 2019. In April 2019, the MSPDP will also hold its US National Debate Championship. The MSPDP championship is the largest qualifying national debate tournament in the world; teams throughout the country participate in qualifying events to fill the 450 spaces at the national championship (more than 1350 debaters).

In addition to debate outreach, the Debate Union sponsors leadership and professional communication programming for secondary school students. These include the First Reporters! project (FRP), Healthy Eating Initiative (HEI), Civics in Action (CivAc), and Leadership Program for Student Clubs/Organizations (LSCO). Leadership and professional communication programming, including event, essay, and presentation competitions, begins in November 2018.

The Debate Union is sponsoring the 2019 Conference on Criminal Justice Reform, an academic event for college and secondary school students. The conference will be held March 2019. In October 2016, high school and college students were invited to enter competitive paper submissions to participate in a Conference on Nuclear Policy. College students served as conference panel moderators and respondents for the high school division of the conference. High school students had the opportunity to present position papers, participate in panel discussions and multimedia presentations, engage outstanding students at receptions and conference banquet. The conference featured keynote speakers from MIT and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill with expertise in nuclear strategy and non-proliferation and the lingering effects of radiation in Japan.

The Debate Union organizes summer residential and commuting debate and/or leadership institutes and workshops for hundreds of high school and middle school students. Seven programs are available in Summer 2019 – 3 middle school debate sessions (MSPDP), a high school debate session (HSPDP debate format), and 3 leadership/professional communication sessions, including two for middle school students and one for high school students. For comprehensive information and 2019 applications and welcome documents, please visit claremontsummer.org after October 15, 2018.


To learn more about the PDP and leadership/professional communication programs, please contact John Meany, john.meany@cmc.edu.

John Meany
Director of Forensics
Claremont Colleges Debate Union

Director, Public Debate Program & Claremont Summer
Claremont McKenna College
500 East Ninth Street
Claremont, CA 91711-6400



2 replies

  1. Hello .

    I was wondering if there is any spanish version of the teacher’s support documents.

    Many thanks

    Vicente Fajardo


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