Civics in Action (CivAc) is a leadership and professional communication initiative of the Claremont Colleges Debate Union, centered at Claremont McKenna College. The program is designed to teach core communication and organizational skills for effective club, organization, and project management, including persuasive speaking (extemporaneous address, roundtable discussion, town hall meeting, multimedia presentation), argumentation and critical thinking, and essay writing. In addition, CivAc organizes training seminars and workshops, sponsors social and political advocacy programs, hosts academic conferences, and coordinates networking events for students and career professionals.

CivAc is one of a number of outreach programs sponsored by the Claremont Colleges Debate Union (CCDU). The CCDU sponsors national and international debate training through its Public Debate Program (PDP). The PDP includes programming in proprietary, age-appropriate, best practices formats for advanced primary and secondary school students – in the US educational system, 5th grade (10 years) through 12th grade (17 years). These include the Youth Public Debate Program (dedicated 5th-6th grade), Middle School Public Debate Program (5th-8th grade), High School Public Debate Program and International Public Debate Program (national and international debate programming for US students, 9th-12th grade). The CCDU has developed and promoted a number of popular debate format models. The CCDU created the parliamentary debate format now used as the official state parliamentary debate model in California, arguably the state’s most popular debate format. The CCDU established and hosted the US national debate championship in the World Universities Debating Championship/British Parliamentary format – it is now the nation’s most popular intercollegiate debate model. There are PDP initiatives for colleges and community groups, including public debates and roundtable discussions, speaker trainings, and competitions.

CCDU public speaking, argumentation, discussion, and debate curricula are used for classroom instruction, critical thinking programming, and formal debating in PDP and related formats in 27 countries. More than 750,000 teachers and students participate in CCDU public speaking and debate outreach programming annually, either in programming managed by the Debate Union or programs and events supported by partners in higher education, non-profit organizations, and civic and community leadership groups.

College and secondary school students are invited to participate in CivAc; guests are welcome for most events.

John Meany, Director of Forensics at Claremont McKenna College, is the Executive Director of the Public Debate Program and Civics in Action. Lauren Phillips is the Civics in Action Program Coordinator. Please contact Lauren at lauren.phillips@cmc.edu for more information about the program.

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