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George W. Bush Institute to Sponsor National Economic Debate Competition for High School Students

Chair of Meadows Communication Studies division Ben Voth enlisted to help coordinate Economic Debate Weekend

Ben Voth, chair of the SMU Meadows School of the Arts Communication Studies Division, is working with the George W. Bush Institute, St. Mark’s School of Texas and the Dallas Urban Debate Alliance to sponsor a national high school economic debate competition in Dallas in October. The following is the official press release from the George W. Bush Institute announcing the project.

The George W. Bush Institute is proud to announce its first annual two-day Economic Debate Weekend, a contest for high school debaters offered in conjunction with the communications department of Southern Methodist University, the St. Mark’s School of Texas, and the Dallas Urban Debate Alliance. The two-day event will take place at the Westin Park-Central Hotel in Dallas, Texas, on October 20 and 21, 2012.

The weekend will kick-off with a day of learning and debating among 100 Dallas Independent School District debate students. The students will address this year’s national urban debate league theme: transportation and economic growth. To facilitate, Mexican scholar and economist Dr. Roberto Salinas-Leon and scholars from the Mexican Business Forum will spend the day instructing the students on the topics of transport and growth, and coaching them to prepare for a debate. A special session for parents of debaters will be hosted by the Mexican Business Forum, addressing the value of debate and how participation affects their children’s future. Saturday will conclude with a dinner featuring a prominent keynote address, awards to top debaters, and invitations for finalists to participate in a Sunday debate challenge.

The Sunday event will be part of the legendary “St. Mark’s Heart of Texas” invitational debate tournament. This tournament is one of the largest and most competitive tournaments in the nation, and is attended by college recruiters nationwide. Over 110 public and private schools participate in this annual Dallas-based tournament. The Bush Institute Economic Debate portion of the tournament will utilize an impromptu hybrid format, with a question relating to economic growth and markets. Judges will include nonprofessionals in order to afford debaters a chance to practice their skills in a real-world format. All participants in the Sunday debate will be invited to attend the keynote dinner the night before.

The winner of the Saturday debate will receive $2,000, and each of the finalists will receive $1,000. In addition, the schools of all finalists will receive $1,000 travel money for their debate programs. On Sunday, the winner of St. Mark’s/Bush Institute national debate will receive $10,000, and the second, third, and fourth place finishers will receive $5,000 each. The top 4 finishers’ schools will receive $4,000 each for team travel expenses.

The George W. Bush Institute is an action-oriented non-profit organization that engages a team of leading experts, scholars, business leaders, and practitioners to meet today’s challenges. This team works to improve the human condition through education reform, human freedom, global health, and economic growth. The annual debate weekend is part of the economic growth area’s signature program, The 4% Growth Project. To help coordinate the Economic Debate Weekend, the Bush Institute has engaged top Dallas debate professionals, including: Nicole Serrano, executive director of the Dallas Urban Debate Alliance, Tim Mahoney, director of debate at St. Mark’s School, and Ben Voth, director of debate at Southern Methodist University. For more information, contact Michael McMahan, Program Manager of the 4% Growth Project, at or 469.547.5692.

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