500 students and graduates were involved in an event which touched on numerous European issues and introduced participants to competitive debates and a truly intercultural experience. European Universities Debating Championships 2008 included 320 debaters, 140 judges, more than 30 pro bono organisers and 70 other volunteers who ensured the smooth running of the event. Over a five-day period, they debated topics relevant to Europe, such as politics and the economy, euthanasia, capital punishment, cultural relativism in Western democracies and the mechanics of democracy in the European Union. The primary goal of the debates was to share perspectives and get an idea of what may come in Europe’s future while the numerous cultures and ethnicities represented gave participants a sense of the European identity. The competitive element of the debates had the effect of getting students to closely research the debated topics, thus giving them a more rounded perspective. It is a horizon-broadening, intellectual activity, which develops both language and social skills and empowers non-formal learning. By enhancing verbal and analytical skills in a multicultural environment, the debates supplemented formal education, which, particularly in Estonia, is focused on factual knowledge and writing skills. 225 students involved in the debates were from project partner organisations, and the participation of the other students was financed with the help of numerous sponsors.
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