The top-ranked debate club in the American Parliamentary Debate Association (APDA)
Our instructors have reached the highest levels of competition as competitors
The winning teams will be allowed to register with Harvard College World Schools Invitational Tournament
Certificate of Completion and Special awards for winning teams and best debaters
Learn to debate and become a confident speaker, improve critical thinking skills

Welcome letter

Harvard College Debating Union Introduction

Harvard College Debating Union, HCDU is Harvard's internationally competitive debate association, established in the fall of 1981. Currently, we're the top-ranked debate club in the country. In a normal year, we travel across America, Europe, and Asia to compete in American and British parliamentary debate. Over the last seven years, we'vewon four world championships.

We welcome anyone interested in competitive debate. Our team is committed to being a community of equal access. No previous debate experience is required.


Debate camp Introduction

This Debate Camp is coached by HCDU members. The aim of the camp is improving students’ debate, speech, critical thinking and leadership skills through interactive, competitive and fun session. It welcomes anyone interested in debate and speech. No previous debate experience is required.

Participating students: Learn to debate and become aconfident speaker, improve critical thinking skills which is usually not part of the Asian classroom education. Arming with these skills, learners can further develop their leadership potential.

Why debate

Debate is a popular activity in Ivy League and G5 universities. MIT, Yale, Stanford in the US and Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial College London in the UK all have their own debating union.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the United States average college enrollment rate for high schools was 70%, while the rate of debate team members was 98.58%. In addition, a lot of universities in the U.S. offer scholarships for college debaters, such as University of Michigan, University of Texas at Austin. It shows that debate has become one of the extracurricular activities valued by college admissions officers of famous universities.

HCDU Top-tier Tourments

The HCDU is not just a debate team, but also a family. We train together, with weekly general meetings, practice rounds, and casing sessions. We compete together, from Yale to Oxford to South Africa to Thailand. But we also hang out together, with regular socials, team dinners, and a yearly off-campus retreat. Members also have many opportunities to be involved beyond just competing, including in the organization of our high school and college tournaments, demonstration debates, and travel opportunities as a debate judge.

Harvard APDA

Harvard National Forensics Tournament

Harvard College World Schools Invitational

This Debate camp is coached by HCDU members and invites the team of HCDU to bring Harvard's local debate courses to China, allowing Chinese students to experience the most authentic Harvard debate culture. In addition, the winning team of the program will be invited to participate in the Harvard College World Schools Invitational (HCWSI). Not only do the team get to experience the top debate tournament on the Harvard campus, but they also get to meet top debaters and compete against those who share their passion for debate.

Why us

Outstanding faculty
The only internationally competitive debate team at Harvard
Official certification and awards
Students who successfully participate in the program will receive an certificate of completion, and the best debaters in the program will receive additional awards. The winning teams will be allowed to register with our World Schools Invitational Tournament next year.
Diversified curriculum
Students will listen to lectures on important topics in debate, and participate in drills to help the students practice their newly learned skills on these topics. Also, students will be assigned an instructor as a mentor, and will meet with them periodically to discuss their goals, growth, and questions about debate.
Real debate environment
We will provide students with extensive opportunities to refine their debate skills through numerous practice debates,and students will receive feedback from the instructors and their peers.
Developing multiple skills
Aiming to promote problem solving and innovative thinking, and help students to build links between words and ideas that make concepts more meaningful.

Teaching Faculty

*The faculty is subject to change.

Tilly Robinson

Social Studies, Harvard University
Tilly has participated in speech and debate since middle school. She was a finalist in Extemporaneous Speaking at the 2021 Tournament of Champions, a 3-year elimination round qualifier in U.S. Extemporaneous Speaking at NSDA Nationals, the 2022 Indiana state runner-up in Impromptu and U.S. Extemporaneous Speaking, and a 2021 Indiana state semifinalist in Lincoln-Douglas Debate. In college, she competes in APDA and BP.

Catherine Liu

Applied Math, Harvard University
Catherine has been involved in debate for six years, where she has done a variety of different formats, including Lincoln-Douglas, American Parliamentary, and British Parliamentary debate. She was a LincolnDouglas National Finalist, and she won the Georgetown and George Washington APDA tournaments. She also participated in the World Universities Debating Championship, was a semi finalist at the US Universities Debating Championship, and is currently in the top 20 national speakers for APDA.

Grace Kim

Applied Math & Computer Science, Harvard University
Grace joined Speech and Debate in 9th grade, starting initially with Extemporaneous Speaking. She started competing in World Schools Debate at the end of 10th grade and joined the USA Debate Development team in 11th grade. She received 3rd speaker award in World Schools Debate at NSDA Nationals in 2020 and has national accolades in Extemporaneous Speaking and Congressional Debate as well.

Theo Datta

Computer Science & Economics, Harvard University
Theo debated for Newton South High School in Public Forum, where he semifinaled and quarterfinaled the Tournament of Champions, championed the Columbia University tournament, and got top 16 at the NSDA championships. He also has lots of experience coaching, working for both the Potomac Debate Academy and the National Symposium for Debate.

Sierra Valdez

Economics & Philosophy, Harvard University
Sierra is a debate enthusiast and has placed 5th in Novice Team Award at the APDA Wellesley Tournament with her partner. She is also a member of the HCDU board, acting as the Vice President of Public Relations. Outside of debate, she is a member of the Harvard Undergraduate Law Review.

Sample Schedule

Day 9:00 - 12:00 2:00 - 6:00pm 7:00 - 9:00pm
Aug 1, 2023 Students arrive Students registration
Aug 2, 2023 Theo Datta speech and Coach introductions


●  Rose and thorn

●  Number

●  Picnic game


●  Self-reflection and set intentions for camp!

Intro to World Schools Debate

● World Schools Debate motion types
● Bootcamp

Debate Workshop 1:How to Make an Argument

● Introduce fundamentals of argumentation

● Introduce note-taking strategies

Debate Workshop 2: Elements of Rebuttal

Debate Strategy 1

● Watch a recording of a national/international
final round, discuss about the flow, strategy and opportunities for improvement

Public speaking workshop

● Fluency, Confidence

Trivia Night!
Aug 3, 2023 Debate Workshop 3: Topic Lecture

● Release the prepared motion

● Present a lecture on the topic

Debate Workshop 4: Weighing

● Lecture on how to weigh arguments

● Weighing drills

Debate Workshop 5: Impromptu Prep

●  Lecture on how to generate arguments for impromptu rounds

● Practice prep

Debate Practice Rounds< ● students prep

● first half of students debate each other

● second half of students debate each other

Office Hours

● Debaters meet with mentors in small groups and ask questions about the practice debates.

Topic Research Time
Aug 4, 2023 Debate Workshop 6: Communication

● Teach communication within and between teams

Debate Workshop 7: Rebuttal Drills

● Practice rebuttal skills

Content Lecture 1

● Actor Analysis

Debate Strategy 2

Content Lecture 2

● Economics

Debate Workshops 8: Weighing tournament

● Putting weighing skills into practice

Office Hours

University Preparation Night

● College readiness College application Advice

Aug 5, 2023 Debate Workshop 9: Principles and Philosophy

● What are principled arguments

● How to write principled arguments

● How to debate with principles (against and with)

Debate Workshop 10: Style and Presentation

Office Hours and Goal Reflection

● Meet with a coach and chat about your goals that you set for the camp

Debate Workshop 11: Impromptu speaking

Debate Strategy 3

Practice Prep

Talent Show!
Aug 6, 2023 Demo debate round

● Featuring your coaches woo!

Office Hours

Practice Debates

Office Hours

Competition preparation
Aug 7, 2023 Debate Competition Debate Competition Awards + Final Remarks
Aug 8, 2023 Students leave

Application Information


  • Date:Aug 1st-Aug 8th, 2023
  • Location:Shanghai
  • Junior Division:Grades 7-9; Senior Division:Grades 10-12;
  • Language:English

Program Fee

  • Included:Tuition fee, instructor service fee, certificate application, ASDAN group leader service fee
  • Not included: Transportation fee, meals during the program, hotel residence fee (optional)