Optional Course: Debating
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Writing an article or defending that same article at a conference are worlds apart. It requires different skills from a student. The course in debating will introduce participants to the various aspects of debating. Students will train debating skills and learn to employ them effectively at the right time. The emphasis in this course is on practice rather than on theory. You can talk about communication for hours but the only way to master the skill of persuasion is by practicing it.
Dutch PhD students are very well able to structure the content of a story. Much time and energy is invested in research and the development of ideas. Other aspects of communication are often regarded as the red haired stepchild. Compare that to the English and American culture of academia. Students are well able to defend their research findings. Starting from a young age they are trained to present, to create rapport and deal with difficult situations. Being proficient at debating enables students to get their message across. Participants are less likely to be lured, or even intimidated, by eloquence or rhetoric of other speakers but instead will be able to asses the value of the arguments brought forward.
The importance of debating skills is growing. More and more people will need to present or debate their ideas in a public context. Authority, purely based on expertise, no longer suffices for convincing an audience. Cicero has put this eloquently: "It’s not about the amount of arguments, but about the quality."