Director, Bard Debate Union
Since joining the Bard Debate Union in 2012, David has coached Bard debaters to the top levels of national and international competition, while also founding and coaching the now internationally recognized Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) Debate Union. Before coming to Bard, David worked 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 (2006). David is also a Faculty Fellow and the Director of Debate at BPI and a faculty member in the Bard Learning Commons, where he teaches courses in Public Speaking and Argumentation.
Director, OSUN Global Debate Network
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 has organized and taught at debate workshops and institutes in the United States, Serbia, Slovenia, Hungary, and Russia. 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 a faculty member in the Philosophy and Human Rights programs, where she teaches courses in continental philosophy, political philosophy, and the German philosophical tradition.
Julia Sands ’22
Club Captain, Bard Debate Union
Julia Sands is a 3rd year student at Bard. She is a psychology and written arts double major. She has been an active team member of the Bard Debate Union ever since arriving at Bard, and during that time she has accomplished things like winning the 2020 Women and Gender Minorities Tournament. She is happy to answer any questions about debate or the BDU.
Gwen Stearns ’21
Team Captain, Bard Debate Union
Gwen Stearns is a senior at Bard, majoring in Political Studies. She has been a member of Bard Debate Union since she was a freshman. In that time, she represented Bard at the Third Bard Network Debate Conference in Budapest, Hungary in March 2019, as well as speaking in numerous BDU public debates. She has also won several awards, including being champion of the Women and Gender Minorities Online Open, champion of the Empire Debates at King’s College, finalist of the Huber Debates at the University of Vermont, and finalist of the Colgate Open. When she’s not debating, she can be found reading fiction, listening to 90s hip-hop, and working as a writing tutor for the Learning Commons.