Debating Society: An interview

The Debating Society at University of Stirling is open to anyone with an interest in current affairs from our society, such as politics and economy. A combination of light-hearted get-togethers on a weekly basis, debating competitions and various activities throughout the year are a perfect way to make new friends and improve your public speaking skills.

We want to give experts as well as beginners a warm welcome to the world of debating. In order to provide you with more information regarding our society, the topics we cover and the things we do throughout the year, we’ve arranged an interview with Cassandra Grützner, the president of the Debating Society.

Hello Cassandra, thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me.
As the president of the Debating Society, could you give me some insight into its history at University of Stirling?

There has been a Debating Society since the 2nd year of University of Stirling. It was active for the first couple of years. For various reasons, it took a long break for roughly 35 years – until 8 years ago, when we started over again. I have been the president of the society since last May and ever since, it’s been going well. We have started collaborations with other societies and become more active in terms of competitions. Last year, we won the Society Grad Award in cooperation with the Economics Society, Air-3 and Film Society! It is a prize awarded by the Student Union we are very proud of.

What kind of people join the Debating Society?

People tend to think that only nerds join our society, but it’s really everyone. Most of our members are law and politics students as well as philosophy students. Many of us are politically interested but not necessarily engaged. In my opinion, the choice of your studies is irrelevant. The Debating Society is a great place for everyone.

You just mentioned that the Debating Society is “a great place for everyone”. Why do you think so?

It is important and useful for everyone to know how to properly engage in a debate / conversation, to know how to make use of rhetorics and how to deal with opposing opinions. We live in a pluralistic society where we should be able to understand each other to at least some extent. If someone is not capable of engaging in a conversation with other people, they will not be able to communicate their opinion either. The debating society offers an excellent opportunity for everyone to improve their communication skills.

Which topics do the debating sessions usually cover?

There is a huge spectrum of topics that we discuss. They are mainly political, economical, ecological and societal issues. We prefer not to discuss philosophical topics, for example, “How do you like Mona Lisa?”, since aesthetics are very subjective. A good question for debating ought to have various aspects that can be discussed including their advantages and downsides.

Can you name three skills that can be gained / improved at the Debating Society?

Open-mindedness, the ability to take criticism and willingness to compromise.

The Debating Society meets up every Thursday, from 6:30 until 8:00 pm. Are there any other activities the society is participating in, for example tournaments and get-togethers?

Generally speaking, we’re trying to be a “social” society by going out for drinks after our sessions. Annually, we organise two big events. This year, there is going to be a Halloween debate combined with a party. In December, we will be organising a Christmas Dinner!
Also, for the first time since many years, we’re involved in tournaments again! This month, we will be participating at three competitions in Scotland. I am currently working on getting the society into international competitions as well, in Sweden or Ireland. Also, we were chosen to organize a debate for high school students next year, hosted by the Oxford Competition! Last but not least, we will be having a debate hosted by the Rotary Club after the reading week in the 2nd semester. It’s a great networking opportunity with free food and interesting debates!

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The Debating Society welcomes you every Tuesday at 6:30 pm in the atrium of Cottrell Building.

Still not sure about giving it a try? Here is 12 ways how debating will help you!


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