Co-Director, Bard Debate Union
Dr. Ruth Zisman founded the Bard Debate Union in 2004. Since then, she has worked to build a world-renowned debate program at Bard – expanding debate from an extra-curricular activity into a centerpiece of liberal arts education – while also working to develop debate programs in Bard’s surrounding school districts and throughout Bard’s national and international networks. Ruth oversees the team’s public debates and events, tournament hosting, outreach projects, travel calendar and logistics. She has organized and taught at debate workshops and institutes in the United States, Serbia, Slovenia, Hungary, and Russia, held fellowships in Berlin and Weimar, and presented at academic conferences at Cornell, Yale, and the University of Zurich. Ruth earned her B.A. in English Literature and Philosophy from Vassar College (2004), her M.A. in Humanities and Social Thought from NYU (2008), and her Ph. D. in German Studies from NYU (2015). Ruth is also the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and a faculty member in the Philosophy program, where she teaches courses in continental philosophy, political philosophy, and the German philosophical tradition.
Co-Director, Bard Debate Union
David Register joined the Bard Debate Union in 2012. David oversees the team’s skill and research development, coaching Bard debaters to the top levels of national and international competition. Before coming to Bard, David coached debate at the University of Vermont where he coached top teams in both policy and parliamentary debate formats. He has also taught at debate workshops and institutes in the United States, Germany, Serbia, Slovenia, Hungary, and Russia. David holds a B.S. in Communication Studies from Emporia College (2004) and a B.F.A. in Communication Studies from the University of North Texas. David is also Faculty Fellow and Director of Debate at BPI – where he founded and coaches the now internationally recognized Bard Prison Initiative Debate Union – and a faculty member in the Bard Learning Commons where he teaches courses in Public Speaking and Argumentation.
Nathaniel Carlsen ’18
Assistant Coach, Bard Debate Union
Nathaniel Carlsen graduated Bard in 2018 with a degree in History and Political Studies. While a student, he worked as a Peer Counselor, a Learning Commons Tutor, and a Golf Cart Driver. Nathaniel now works for the Bard Learning Commons as the Tutor Coordinator Intern. He debated throughout all four years of his time as an undergraduate, during which he was the champion and 9th place speaker at The University of Rochester Open Debate Championship, an octo-finalist at the United States Universities Debating Championship at Stanford University, and debated in the 2016 World Universities Debating Championship in the Hague, Netherlands. Nathaniel is also an avid bicyclist and apple pie baker.
Hadley Parum ’21
Team Captain, Bard Debate Union
Hadley Parum is in their sophomore year at Bard, intending to major in Psychology and Musicology. Highlights of their debate career so far include being a Novice Finalist at the U.S. Universities Debate Championships in 2018 and being selected to attend the Bard College Network Debate Conference in Budapest, Hungary in 2019. On top of their involvement with the Bard Debate Union, they are a Research Assistant in the Memory Dynamics Lab on campus and a peer tutor in Writing and Music Theory through the Bard Learning Commons. In the spare moments in between their many commitments, they enjoy watching comedy, playing sudoku, and enjoying coffee.
Elaina Taylor ’20
Club Captain, Bard Debate Union
Elaina Taylor is a junior at Bard majoring in philosophy, particularly interested in the study of ordinary language. She works as Assistant House Manager at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts and runs the Bard Poker Club. She has been debating for a year and a half with the Bard Debate Union, and in 2018 she served as a representative for the Bard College Network Debate Conference in St. Petersburg. Along with her partner Estrella Frankenfeld, Elaina has won several awards in her time debating, including Finalist at the Smolny Open Debate Tournament in 2018, Novice Finalist at UVM Huber Debates in 2017, and 2nd Novice Speaker at NAW*DC 2018.