Archive of European Projects

Masarykovy debaty
Start date: 01 Sep 2014, End date: 30 Jun 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The Masaryk debates project arose as a response to two issues of public debate in the Czech Republic. The first is the lack of objectivity and impartiality in current social debates. Than there is the lack of education and training of critical thinking in Czech schools. This is responsible for difficult participation in public debate of our youth. The project aims to encourage public debate by organizing impartial debates for the public, developing critical thinking skills of our participant's and by providing a space for dialogue between young people and public officials. We organized a debates based on the so-called Oxford debating format in which two opposing teams of speakers with argue their different views on a predetermined theses. These debates take place in a public space. The debating format is well balanced and has a confrontational style that is attractive for spectators. Thanks to the good reputation that we have been able to achieve in more than 5 years of our activity, we can also bring issues that are currently of marginal interest or did not find sufficient coverage in traditional media channels. On our public debates we also promote the second part of our project, teaching argumentation. These argumentation courses are aimed primarily at students from the last year of secondary school and at university students. In addition to the argumantation abilities of participants they develop their critical thinking and thus the courses are an important complement to the formal education. Our project therefore encourages structured dialogue between young people and public officials in two ways. The first is to provide a space for meeting with them, therefore the organization of debates in the public arena. The second aspect of our project is to develop critical thinking of young participants. An ability that is key to a participation in a structured dialogue. During the project, we organized three large Masaryk debates, which combined attended about 300 people. These debates were coupled with smaller seminars in which only selected students were able to participate. At these seminars, participants were able to become better acquainted with the speakers of Masaryk debates and to further discuss the debated issues. Debates and seminars were held in the summer semester of 2016. Furthermore, we organized a big argumentation course divided into two parts. In this course, participants had the opportunity to learn the theory and practice of academic debating and argumentation techniques. This possibility was given to 11 participants of the project. This course was held in autumn 2014. Due to organizational challenges of the project, we also organized activities aimed at training of our organizers in relevant aspects of the project's organization. The training took place in March 2016 and was led by experienced organizers of Masaryk debates and the Masaryk University Debating Club.
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