Gonzaga Debate Institute (GDI)

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

A female student in her class with some of her classmates

Gonzaga Debate Institute (GDI)

The Gonzaga Debate Institute (GDI) is a haven for those passionate about debate. Located in the academic setting of Gonzaga University, GDI has played an important role in molding the debate scene in the United States.

We’ll explore how GDI offers more than just a debate camp; it’s a transformative journey that has been changing lives for years.

What Is the Gonzaga Debate Institute?

The Gonzaga Debate Institute is more than just a summer camp; it’s an institution that has been at the forefront of debate education. Imagine a place where the air is thick with intellectual curiosity, where every conversation could become a learning experience. That’s GDI for you.

It’s a hub that brings together students, educators, and debate professionals, offering a rich curriculum beyond the traditional realms of policy, Lincoln-Douglas, and public forum debates. It’s where theory meets practice and where students transform into scholars.

Historical background: The inception and evolution

The Gonzaga Debate Institute has stood as a pillar of debate excellence for over 50 years. Students from all over the United States and beyond have relied on GDI to deepen their understanding of both the theory and practice of competitive debate. But this isn’t just about longevity.

Think about it: generations of debaters have passed through its doors, each adding to the diverse array of ideas and techniques that GDI represents today. This place isn’t just an enduring camp; it’s a dynamic institution that has constantly evolved, tailoring its methods to the shifting demands of its students.

The mission and vision: More than just a debate camp

The Gonzaga Debate Institute creates a nurturing environment for students to grow intellectually and personally. But it’s more than just a debate camp. GDI aims to equip its students with the skills they need to be compelling debaters, informed citizens, and empathetic human beings.

Group of high school students sitting in classroom and writing in notebooks.

The mission goes beyond winning trophies; it’s about creating a community of critical thinkers who can articulate their ideas effectively and contribute meaningfully to society.

The vision is grand yet attainable—transforming each student into a beacon of intellectual curiosity and ethical responsibility.

The types of programs offered: From novice to advanced

Regarding the range of programs, GDI provides various options for different skill levels and interests. From Scholars/Varsity Policy Debate for the seasoned debaters to Sophomores Policy Debate for those still finding their footing, there’s something for everyone.

If you’re looking for a shorter commitment, the Two-Week Policy Debate programs are available in Varsity, JV, and Novice levels. A One-week Lincoln Douglas Debate program is offered for both Varsity and Beginner levels.

Let’s not forget the digital age; GDI also offers a Two-Week Online Policy Debate program, making it accessible for students who can’t make it to the campus. At the Gonzaga Debate Institute, every student is enriched and empowered through meticulously crafted programs that cater to all levels.

Why Should You Consider GDI for Your Debate Training?

If you’re searching for a debate program that transcends the ordinary, look no further than the Gonzaga Debate Institute. But why GDI, you ask? Well, it’s about more than just learning how to argue effectively or mastering the art of rhetoric.

At GDI, you’re signing up for an experience that aims to shape you into a well-rounded individual. Here, debate is not just a skill; it’s a lens through which you can view the world, analyze complex issues, and articulate your thoughts with clarity and conviction.

The institute offers a unique blend of experienced faculty, a cutting-edge curriculum, and a nurturing environment that fosters intellectual and personal growth. GDI equips you with the tools to sift through the noise and emerge as a confident, informed individual in a world teeming with information and viewpoints.

The faculty: A blend of experienced educators and debate champions

One of the standout features of the Gonzaga Debate Institute is its faculty, a stellar ensemble of seasoned educators and debate champions. Imagine learning the nuances of policy debate from someone who has taught the subject for years and won national championships.

Female teacher addressing students in a classroom

Or picture yourself delving into the intricacies of the Lincoln-Douglas debate under the guidance of an educator who is also a published author. This learning environment is dynamic, blending academic expertise with practical experience while providing mentorship and guidance.

The faculty at GDI is deeply invested in your success, offering personalized feedback and one-on-one coaching sessions that ensure you’re not just another face in the crowd.

The curriculum: Tailored to foster critical thinking and eloquence

Regarding the curriculum, the Gonzaga Debate Institute takes a holistic approach that goes beyond the conventional. The curriculum reinforces the fundamentals of good argument while educating students on their format’s most recent theoretical and practical developments. But let’s unpack that a bit. This means that you’re learning not just how to debate but also how to think.

The curriculum is designed to challenge your preconceptions, make you question the status quo, and equip you with crucial analytical skills in today’s complex world. From understanding the nuances of argumentation theory to exploring the ethical dimensions of debate, the curriculum at GDI is a carefully crafted tapestry that aims to make you a better debater, thinker, and communicator.

How Does GDI’s Curriculum Stand Out?

The Gonzaga Debate Institute’s curriculum distinguishes itself by offering a multi-dimensional approach to debate education in a world where debate camps exist. While many programs focus solely on the mechanics of debate, GDI takes it several steps further.

Here, the curriculum is not just about teaching you how to argue; it’s about teaching you how to think, research, and engage with the world around you. The institute incorporates a blend of traditional debate formats, argumentation theory, and real-world issues to offer a comprehensive educational experience.

This unique approach ensures students are well-versed in debate and critical thinkers who can apply their skills beyond the debate stage.

The focus on argumentation theory: Why it matters

A strong focus on argumentation theory is at the heart of the Gonzaga Debate Institute’s curriculum. But why does this matter? Well, understanding the idea behind argumentation is akin to understanding the science behind a machine; it allows you to operate it more efficiently and effectively.

Two fundamental areas of debate success exist: inquiry (researching and developing an argument) and advocacy (presenting an argument to your judges). GDI’s curriculum delves into these areas through small group discussions, lectures, group and individual research projects, and numerous opportunities to present speeches and engage in practice debates.

This multi-faceted approach ensures that students are skilled debaters, influential researchers, and compelling advocates.

The integration of current events and social issues: Debate meets reality

One of the standout features of the Gonzaga Debate Institute’s curriculum is its integration of current events and social issues. In a rapidly changing world, understanding the context in which debates occur is crucial.

At GDI, you’re not just debating abstract concepts; you’re debating issues that matter and shaping the world as we know it. Whether discussing the implications of climate change policy or debating the ethics of artificial intelligence, the curriculum ensures that students are well-versed in theory and informed citizens.

This real-world focus makes the learning experience at GDI educational and incredibly relevant.

Specialized tracks: Policy, Lincoln-Douglas, and Public Forum

The Gonzaga Debate Institute offers technical tracks to cater to various interests and skill levels. Whether you’re a seasoned debater interested in the complexities of policy debate or a beginner looking to dip your toes into Lincoln-Douglas, GDI has something for you.

Each track is designed to explore its respective format in-depth, complete with specialized coaching, tailored research projects, and practice debates. For those interested in the fast-paced world of Public Forum debate, GDI offers a track that focuses on the unique skills required for success in this format.

These specialized tracks ensure you’ll find a home at the Gonzaga Debate Institute, regardless of your interest or skill level.

What’s a Day in the Life of a GDI Student Like?

Your day is a well-balanced mix of rigorous debate training, enlightening lectures, and engaging extracurricular activities. But it’s not just about the scheduled events; it’s also about the spontaneous debates that erupt during lunch, the friendships forged in study sessions, and the sense of community permeating every aspect of life at GDI.

The daily schedule: From dawn to dusk

A typical day at the Gonzaga Debate Institute is a whirlwind of activity designed to maximize your learning experience. The day kicks off with morning lectures that delve into the intricacies of debate theory and practice.

Following the initial training, participants can attend small group sessions to apply their newly acquired knowledge in a more personalized setting. Research projects and practice debates are often scheduled in the afternoons, allowing for a hands-on approach to mastering the art of argumentation.

The institute culminates all programs with the GDI Tournament, a high-stakes competition where you can test your skills against diverse debaters. The best part? You will receive feedback from highly experienced college and high school debate judges, providing valuable insights into your strengths and weaknesses.

Extracurricular activities: It’s not all about debate

While debate is undoubtedly the cornerstone of the Gonzaga Debate Institute, it’s not the only thing on the menu. GDI understands that a well-rounded individual is not just proficient in debate but also engages in a variety of activities.

Students with Mexican cuisines

Whether participating in a game of ultimate frisbee, attending a film screening, or participating in a community service project, there’s no shortage of extracurricular activities to keep you engaged. These activities offer a much-needed break from the rigors of debate training and opportunities to build friendships and create lasting memories.

The community: Building friendships and networks

One of the most enriching aspects of the Gonzaga Debate Institute is the sense of community it fosters. Here, you’re not just a student but part of a family. At GDI, you’ll form lifelong bonds with faculty and students invested in your success.

This community extends beyond the duration of the program, offering a network of alums and professionals who can provide mentorship and opportunities long after you’ve left the campus.

Whether collaborating on future debate projects or seeking career advice, the connections you make at GDI can open doors you never knew existed.

How Do You Apply and What Should You Expect?

The application process for GDI is designed to be comprehensive and straightforward, ensuring that each student is well-suited for the program. Once you’ve successfully navigated the application, you can expect an enriching experience beyond traditional debate training.

As soon as you step on campus, you will be surrounded by an exciting atmosphere that pushes your intellectual limits and fosters personal development. Expect rigorous debate sessions, enlightening lectures, and many extracurricular activities that make your time at GDI a holistic educational experience.

The application process: Step-by-step guide

The first step in your journey to becoming a part of the Gonzaga Debate Institute is filling out the online application form on their official website. This form will ask for basic information, academic history, and debate experience.

Some programs may require additional materials like a letter of recommendation or a portfolio of your debate performances. After submitting your application, you may be invited for an interview in person or via video call. After the interview, successful applicants will receive an acceptance letter and details about the program, fees, and other logistics.

One of the GDI experience highlights is the culminating GDI Tournament, where you’ll have the chance to showcase your skills and receive feedback from some of the most experienced judges in the debate community.

What to pack: Preparing for an immersive experience

As you prepare to embark on this transformative journey at the Gonzaga Debate Institute, packing wisely is crucial. Of course, you’ll need the basics: clothing, toiletries, and prescription medications. But remember items that will enhance your learning experience.

Bring a reliable laptop for research, note-taking, and any debate materials you already have. A voice recorder can help review your speeches and debates. Since you’ll spend much time in lecture halls and debate rooms, comfortable clothing and a sturdy backpack are must-haves.

Given the range of extracurricular activities, consider packing athletic wear and casual outfits for downtime. Lastly, bring an open mind and a thirst for knowledge; these are the most essential items you can pack, and they’ll ensure you make the most of your time at GDI.


As we wrap up this comprehensive exploration of the Gonzaga Debate Institute, it’s clear that GDI offers far more than just a summer debate camp. It’s a transformative experience that aims to shape you into a well-rounded individual with the skills to excel in debate and life.

From its cutting-edge curriculum and experienced faculty to its vibrant community and plethora of extracurricular activities, GDI provides a holistic educational experience that is second to none.

Whether you’re a seasoned debater looking to hone your skills or a beginner eager to dive into the world of argumentation, GDI offers a range of programs designed to meet your specific needs and aspirations.

A final word on why GDI could be the right choice for you

Look no further if you’re a debater seeking a challenging, rewarding, competitive summer. The Gonzaga Debate Institute promises to offer another outstanding GDI experience beyond the conventional.

Here, you’re learning how to win debates and think critically, engage with the world around you, and become a responsible citizen. The skills you acquire at GDI are not just applicable to debate; they’re life skills that will serve you well in your academic and professional journey.

If you’re seeking more than a debate camp, GDI offers an enriching experience that challenges, rewards, and improves you.

Additional Resources

As you embark on this transformative journey with the Gonzaga Debate Institute, you must equip yourself with additional resources to enrich your experience. GDI offers an extensive online library with articles, research papers, and video lectures to help you get a head start on your debate education.

Additionally, the institute’s website features a blog that covers various aspects of the debate, from strategy and technique to the latest trends in argumentation theory. These resources are not just supplementary material but integral to your holistic development as a debater and critical thinker.

Recommended Reading and Debate Resources

To maximize your time at the Gonzaga Debate Institute, we recommend diving into some pre-camp reading and resource exploration.

student reading book between the shelves in the library

Books like “The Elements of Debate” by David Zarefsky and “Critical Thinking: The Art of Argument” by George W. Rainbolt and Sandra L. Dwyer provide excellent foundational knowledge.

Websites like the National Debate Coaches Association and the Cross Examination Debate Association offer a wealth of articles, strategy guides, and debate recordings that can help you understand the nuances of different debate formats. These resources can serve as a primer, helping you hit the ground running when you arrive at GDI.

Contact Information for Further Inquiries

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or need additional information. The Gonzaga Debate Institute is 502 E. Boone Ave, Spokane, WA 99258. You can also contact them at (509) 313-6663.

Whether you’re curious about the application process, want to know more about the curriculum, or have specific questions about accommodation, the staff at GDI are more than happy to assist you. Your journey to becoming a formidable debater and a well-rounded individual is just a call or click away.

Ready to Take Your Debate Skills to the Next Level and Boost Your College Application?

If you’ve found this comprehensive guide on the Gonzaga Debate Institute enlightening, you’re likely passionate about debate and its transformative power. But did you know that excelling in debate can also significantly enhance your college application?

At AdmissionSight, we specialize in helping high-achieving students like you turn their talents and passions into compelling college applications.

We understand that the college admissions process can be complex and competitive, especially for students aiming for top-tier schools. Our personalized guidance helps you select courses, extracurricular activities, and application strategies, highlighting your unique skills in debate and more.

Don’t leave your college future to chance. Let AdmissionSight help you navigate the admissions process with the expertise and personalized attention you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and take the first step toward realizing your college dreams.

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