International Public Debate Association

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For another use of the acronym IPDA, see International Planetary Data Alliance.

The International Public Debate Association (IPDA), inaugurated on 15 February 1997 at St. Mary's University, Texas in San Antonio, is a national debate league currently active in the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Kansas, Alabama, Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Florida, and Oklahoma. The central focus of IPDA is to promote a debate format that emphasizes public speaking and real-world persuasion skills over the use of evidence and speed. To further this goal, IPDA predominantly uses lay judges in order to encourage an audience-centered debate style.¹ While most member programs within the International Public Debate Association are associated with colleges or universities, participation in IPDA tournaments is open to anyone whose education level is equivalent to secondary school or higher.²


IPDA primarily utilizes a one-on-one debate format in which one debater takes the side of the affirmative where they have the burden of advocating and proving the resolution. The other debater takes the side of the negative where they have the burden of refuting the affirmative's case. For each round, the two debaters are given five possible resolutions. The negative begins the topic selection by striking one resolution, then the affirmative strikes one resolution. The negative strikes again. Thus, the affirmative has two resolutions to choose from. The affirmative then strikes one of the remaining resolutions, selecting the other as the topic for the round. After the topic has been selected, both debaters have thirty minutes to prepare a case.

The round itself has a maximum length of 26 minutes, divided as follows:

Affirmative constructive speech (5 minutes)
Negative cross-examination of affirmative (2 minutes)
Negative constructive speech (6 minutes)
Affirmative cross-examination of negative (2 minutes)
Affirmative rebuttal (3 minutes)
Negative rebuttal and summary (5 minutes)
Affirmative summary (3 minutes)

IPDA also offers a team format of public debate. Several tournaments will be offering this format during the 2011-2012 competitive season. Check the IPDA website for future tournaments offering this option. [1]


Most IPDA tournaments offer three divisions of competition. The Novice division is open to any person without a bachelor's degree who has competed in less than 8 debate tournaments in their entire life. The Varsity division is open to any person without a bachelor's degree. The Professional division has no restrictions on participation and includes participants who are undergraduates, graduate students, professors, coaches, and professionals. As of the 2009 Convention, the Open division has been renamed the Professional division.

Tournaments and Schools[edit]

IPDA tournaments are held approximately every other weekend from late September until early April. The first tournament of the year is usually hosted by Henderson State University and is called the Caddo Warm-Up. Other schools that host tournaments include the University of Arkansas at Monticello, Arkansas Tech University, Stephen F. Austin State University, Bowling Green State University of Ohio, Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, Union University, Louisiana State University at Alexandria, the University of Central Arkansas, Louisiana State University at Shreveport, Har-Ber High School, East Texas Baptist University, Sam Houston State University, and Mississippi College. Other schools that actively compete in IPDA but do not currently host a tournament areTulane University, Louisiana College, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Louisiana Tech University, the University of Texas at Tyler, the College of Southern Idaho, St. Mary's University, Texas, Rogers Heritage High School, the University of Arkansas, and Tulsa Community College.

More recently, IPDA has spread to the Pacific Northwest, and many tournaments in the Northwest Forensics Conference now sponsor IPDA divisions, including Linfield College, Oregon State, Mt. Hood Community College and Clark College.

Typical IPDA tournaments run over two or three days, usually containing six preliminary rounds and three or four elimination rounds, depending on the number of competitors.

The culminating event for the IPDA season is the annual National Championship Tournament & Convention. In 2012 the tournament will be held on the campus of Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. The National Championship Tournament features eight preliminary rounds and usually at least four elimination rounds. The final round for the either the Professional division or the Varsity division takes place at an awards banquet, where season-long sweepstakes awards are presented in addition to the tournament awards.

National Championships[edit]

National Champions are crowned at the conclusion of the National Championship tournament, most often held in April. Each division crowns two National Champions per year. One is designated the Season-long Champion, while the other is designated as the National Tournament Champion. Both are often referred to as the "National Champion."

Squad (Founder's Award)[edit]


Professional (formerly Open) Division[edit]

National Season Long Champion (Daniel Webster Award)[edit]

National Tournament Champion[edit]

Varsity Division[edit]

National Season Long Champion (Edmund Burke Award)[edit]

National Tournament Champion[edit]

National Tournament Top Speaker[edit]

Novice Division[edit]

National Season Long Champion (Susan B. Anthony Award)[edit]

National Tournament Top Speaker Champion[edit]

National Tournament Champion[edit]

Team Division[edit]

National Season Long Champion[edit]

Bennett Strange Coach of the Year Award[edit]



External links[edit]


  1. Mission and History
  2. Constitution
  3. Event Description