About Us

The Bard Debate Union is a community of students, faculty, and staff committed to promoting the values of civic discourse, dialogue, and debate throughout the Bard College community, the greater Hudson Valley region of New York, and the world at large. We travel to more than 10 intercollegiate debate tournaments each year, host public debates and events on campus, and work with local middle school and high school debate clubs to foster a culture of conversation and debate throughout our community. We are also working to integrate debate training and education into the Bard Prison Initiative, the Bard High School Early Colleges, and throughout Bard’s international network. For us debate is about much more than competition. It is about individual empowerment, civic participation, and global citizenship.

The Bard Debate Union was founded in 2004 after a Bard student, together with a student from Vassar College (now our Co-Director of debate – Ruth Zisman), decided to attend and compete in several regional and national CEDA/NDT policy debate tournaments. The duo ended up winning the Novice National Championship and were named best new debaters in the country. Thus, upon the recognition that Bard College was just filled with enthusiastic and passionate debaters like these, the administration quickly decided to found and sponsor a debate program. “Bard students tend to be very successful in debate because they think outside of the box,” says Vice President of Academic Affairs Jonathan Becker.

Whether you like to speak your mind or argue just for the sake of arguing, come check out the Bard Debate Union!