Introduction to BUDL


The Baltimore Urban Debate League's mission is to enrich the academic experience of students from Baltimore City's public high schools through participation in team policy debate. The Baltimore Urban Debate League is especially interested in students with untapped potential, who are disengaged from the contemporary high school classroom. For these students, and for traditionally successful students as well, debate often becomes the most rewarding activity of their high school career. Because debate requires self-directed learning and includes opportunities for competitive success, it motivates students who have never before felt the thrill of being responsible and rewarded for their own learning.

Through the Baltimore Urban Debate League students from under served urban schools-even those who are not top academic performers-can participate in competitive debate, and reap all of the accompanying intellectual and social benefits.

Teachers and administrators love debate because it:

  • Enhances literacy skills
  • Motivates students with a competitive format
  • Provides opportunities for student-led learning
  • Gives students exposure to post-secondary education and scholarships
  • Enriches the in-school and after-school academic programming of the high school

Debate gives students the leg up by:

  • Increasing critical and analytical thinking skills
  • Promoting written and oral communication skills
  • Sharpening research and computer skills
  • Improving confidence in public speaking
  • Teaching students to present their views effectively and resolve conflict with their intellect rather than with physical aggression
  • Providing scholarship opportunities to attend four-year colleges and universities

The Debate Format

The Baltimore Urban Debate League employs the team policy debate format.

In policy debate, students formulate specific solutions to a policy problem of national importance. Teams of two students debate the national high school topic with each tournament. Students conduct research and prepare extensively prior to tournaments, where judges render decision based on the evidence presented and the quality of argumentation. Teams argue both the affirmative and negative sides fo the same topic and must be prepared to address and refute the opposing side's evidence.

Program Components

  • Summer Institute scholarships at Towson University and other national institutes
  • Eight tournaments with trophies during school year
  • Professional development workshops
  • Regional, national, and international opportunities to compete
  • Promotion of debate in Baltimore, including mentoring at middle school debate programs and public demonstration debates

Program Partners

The Baltimore Urban Debate League (BUDL) is administered through a partnership between the Baltimore City Public School System and Towson University.

The BUDL is a flagship in the national movement to bring to urban high schools.

Click here for a list of member schools and affiliates

How to Get Involved

  • Coach debate at one of our high schools
  • Judge at Debate tournaments
  • Work with students in debate classrooms
  • Volunteer at tournaments
  • Make a financial contribution
  • Promote league activities in your community

For more information, please contact us!