Georgetown Debate Policy Seminar

The GDS Policy Seminar

The Georgetown Debate Seminar is an elite summer debate workshop that imparts the lessons and skills that helped Georgetown Debate win the National Debate Tournament in 2012 and 2014.


3 Week: June 17th – July 8th, 2018

Students should arrive on the 17th and depart on the 8th.

2 Week: June 18th – July 1st, 2017


3 Week Residential: $3,449

3 Week Commuter: $2,600

2 Week Residential: $2,799

2 Week Commuter: $1,800

For residential students, this cost covers instruction, room and board. Students will be given a meal plan that will allow them to eat at several different cafeterias and restaurants on and near campus.

To reserve placement, a $1000 deposit is due by April 30. Please note that deposits are non-refundable for accepted students.

2018 Policy Faculty/Curricula


Dave Arnett

Director of Debate at the University of Kentucky

Dave is the Director of Debate at the University of Kentucky. Since 2010 his teams at Kentucky have consistently been ranked in the top twenty nationally. On 15 separate occasions his teams have been ranked in the top 16 and three times he has coached the top ranked team in the country. Dave was selected the Ross Smith National Coach of the Year in 2009 and voted runner-up for Coach of the Decade. He was voted the 2015 American Debate Association coach of the year.  He is the Director of five national college and high school tournaments including the Tournament of Champions. Before serving in his role at Kentucky, Dave was the Director of Debate at UC Berkeley for twelve years. He has over twenty years’ experience teaching and directing summer camps including Northwestern, Berkeley, Stanford, Kentucky, Gonzaga, and Emory.


Shree Awsare

Director of Forensics at North Broward Preparatory School

Shree Awsare is currently the Director of Forensics at North Broward Preparatory School in Coconut Creek, FL and an assistant debate coach at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA.  He debated at Columbia University in New York City between 2007-2011, after which he attended Georgetown University Law Center and worked as an attorney in Washington, DC.  Throughout his coaching career, Shree’s had the privilege of working with high school students who consistently qualify to the Tournament of Champions, closed out the Virginia State Championship, received Round Robin invites for Greenhill, Michigan, Pinecrest, and Scranton, and won awards at top tournaments like Wake Forest, Lexington, Harvard, NCFL, and others.  Shree’s expertise is in helping students transition from strong regional competitors to heavyweights on the national circuit.


Seth Gannon

Assistant Coach at Georgetown University, Debate Coach at the Westminster Schools

Seth Gannon has won, coached, and judged national championships in debate. He is currently an adjunct fellow at the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington, D.C.

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Tim Mahoney

Debate Coach at the St. Marks School of Texas

Tim is the Director of Debate at the St. Mark’s School of Texas. As a college debater Tim advanced to the final round of 10 tournaments, winning seven of them. As a college coach his teams reached the elimination rounds at 9 consecutive CEDA National tournaments, and he qualified teams for the NDT every year after the merger. In his last year of college coaching, his top team was in the quarter finals of both the NDT and CEDA Nationals. His St. Mark’s teams have won or reached the final round of every major high school tournament including, Greenhill, Glenbrooks, Harvard, Berkeley, Westminster, TOC, NFL/NSDA, Emory, and the NDCA National Championships.


Mikaela Malsin

Director of Debate at Georgetown University

Mikaela is the incoming Director of Debate at Georgetown. She has previously coached nationally ranked college debate teams at Emory, the University of Georgia, and Wake Forest, and has worked with many successful high school teams including winners of the Tournament of Champions. Mikaela has also taught at the Dartmouth Debate Institute, the Emory National Debate Institute, and the Dallas Urban Debate Alliance. She received her Ph.D. in Communication Studies from the University of Georgia in 2016.

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Jason Sigalos

Debate Coach at Emory University

Jason Sigalos is currently a debate coach at Emory University.  In high school he attended Woodward Academy in College Park, Georgia, where he was a two time state champion and top speaker at the NDCA and TOC.  Additionally, he won the St. Marks High School tournament, the Pace Round Robin, and the NDCA National Championship.  While debating for Emory, Jason was a three time first round qualifier and octafinalist at the NDT, winner of the 2016 Herbert L. James debates at Dartmouth, and top speaker at the 2015 Harvard tournament.  In his junior and senior year, he and his partner were ranked as one of the top five teams in the country during the regular season.

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Danielle Verney O’Gorman

Director of Debate at the U.S. Naval Academy

Danielle has been the Director of Debate and professor of political science at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland for twelve years.  Her teams have reached elimination rounds and won speaker awards at all levels of debate.  She particularly enjoys working with younger debaters to help them understand argumentation and develop their potential.   She received the American Debate Association’s “Coaching Excellence Award” in 2016.  Prior to coming to Georgetown, she taught at the Gonzaga Debate Institute, the Capitol Classic Debate Institute, and the Liberty Debate Institute.

 Jon Sharp

jon sharp

Director of Debate at the Georgetown Day School

jon sharp returns for another summer at the Georgetown Debate Seminar as one of its most dedicated, accomplished, and well-liked instructors. At both college and high school levels, jon has coached teams to the late elimination rounds of every major tournament in the country, including multiple CEDA National championships and consistently impressive TOC performances. jon’s unmatched argumentative flexibility and commitment to empowering students has earned him the admiration of countless debaters and coaches.

2018 GDS Lab Curricula

Awsare-Sigalos (Seniors)

The Awsare-Sigalos lab will position you for maximum competitive success in your final year of high school debate. The following points of emphasis guide the lab’s curriculum:

(1) Strategic Flexibility – seniors debating at a high level must be capable of creating and executing a wide range of strategies to adapt to their judges and the weaknesses of their opponents.  The seniors lab will set students up for success – not only will Jason and Shree help polish their strengths, but they will focus on identifying and overcoming their argumentative and research weaknesses. Our lab will break down the arbitrary Policy/K divide and teach students to become excellent debaters and strategicians who are able to master whatever content they may encounter and are sought out by college debate programs.
(2) Persuasion – debate is a communicative activity at its core.  The best senior debaters are not only knowledgeable or technically proficient, but know how to imbue their arguments with personality and swagger.  The seniors lab will not only focus on solidifying fundamentals, but will emphasize drills and redoes focused on argument clarity, packaging, and ethos so you can aim for a Top Speaker Award.
(3) Preparation throughout the year – seniors more often than not end up being role models for younger teammates, must exercise leadership, or carry the largest research and preparation load all on their own.  Most debate camps provide students with a head start going into the season, but the excellent ones emphasize mastering the process of preparation that sustains success from one tournament to the next.  The seniors lab will help our students go from mastering technical debate skills to becoming strategic planners that can tackle a topic!
(4) Learning how to learn – most seniors have a great grasp of the basics already, but very few push the boundaries of the topic and become trailblazers in their own right.  The most successful debaters know how to learn, push, and adapt to arguments.  Our lab will focus not only practicing new skills, but will seek to instill in our students a self-reflexive process of debate that will stay with them far beyond camp!

Arnett-Malsin (Juniors)

The Arnett-Malsin juniors lab is focused on helping students take the next step in their debate career. A number of focal points guide our curriculum:

  1. Debating and Drills — Nothing is more important to this lab than debating. Students will be offered daily opportunities for practice debates, speech redos, and participation in various drills. You will begin giving speeches on your first day of lab. Speech redos will be required after each debate. An assortment of exercises e.g. extending a DA, answering a link turn, overviews, will be offered on a regular basis. Debating will be a constant of the lab experience even during heavy research times.
  2. Research — A sophisticated comprehension of key topic issues and the ability to produce complete arguments are crucial to making the transition to the elite level of high school debate. This lab will focus on both those goals. Students will be responsible for producing complete arguments individually or in small groups. Lab leaders will work with students on assignments at every step of the process giving daily updates and suggestions. The range of possible research topics will be flexible and students will have much input into this process. We will emphasize the core topic issues, which ensures that students will be prepared to debate primary topic controversies as they begin the season. Each part of the argument construction process will be taught including initial affirmative and negative waves, block writing, and updating arguments over the course of the workshop.
  3. Theory and Strategy – The last piece of this puzzle is teaching sophisticated approaches to breaking down the topic and debate. What makes a good affirmative? How to approach the beginning of the year from the negative perspective? Complex theory debates will be explored covering the spectrum of debate argument e.g. Kritik, Topicality, Counterplans. It is the goal of this lab to teach students to be their own coaches and be able to win a debate starting with the beginning brainstorming stage of argument production, moving to the block writing process, and finishing with in-round execution. Advanced theory and strategy will be woven in and out of the curriculum to help guide this aim.

Gannon-Mahoney (Sophomores)

Three themes guide the curriculum of the Gannon-Mahoney sophomore lab:
1. Debate should be fun.
When students return home excited about debate, they know they used their summer wisely, and their coach’s job is that much easier. Students leave our lab with an understanding that even the “hard work” debate is famous for can be — first and foremost — a lot of fun.
2. Sophomores need skills work, and the best way to enhance those skills is to actually debate (and receive individual feedback from top coaches).
Students in our lab debate almost every day, and our curriculum is guided by what we see in debates. Lab leaders judge almost every scheduled debate session. Because judging debates isn’t turned over to RA’s the lab curriculum accurately reflects what is actually happening in debates and curriculum can be adjusted accordingly. This ensures that lab sessions cover the topics students need, and allows our debaters to see the immediate relevance of what we are teaching to what they want to accomplish.
3. We put a heavy emphasis on clarity — not only of words but of ideas.
The true measure of speed in debate is “ideas communicated per minute,” and we teach students the preparation and presentation habits necessary to deliver smart arguments in a way that judges can understand them and vote on them.



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