CDL Students Make Their Mark at Aspen Ideas Festival

Two recent CDL alums were selected to take part in a public debate, underwritten by the CDL’s Premier Sponsor, Allstate, at the prestigious Aspen Ideas Festival last week.

Josh Rivera, a recent graduate of Lane Tech and recipient of a full debate scholarship to Southern Illinois University, and Muriel Dorsey, a Prosser Career Academy alum who recently completed her freshman year as a scholarship debater at Illinois State University, were the youngest speakers at this influential conference of academic, media, political, and business elites. Their public debate was titled “From Argument to Advocacy—Delivering Academic Success Through Urban Debate,” a part of the “Learning Landscape” track at this year’s Aspen Ideas Festival, and was moderated by former debater and current contributing editor Hanna Rosin of The Atlantic, the media company that organizes the Aspen Ideas Festival with the Aspen Institute. The debaters were introduced and joined on-stage for a question and answer session by Michele Coleman Mayes, General Counsel at Allstate, who presented a powerful case for the impact of urban debate in creating opportunities for successful academic outcomes and professional careers.

A video clip from the Q&A following their debate follows:

The topic for the debate was “Resolved: that the United States should provide military aid to opposition groups in order to promote democracy in the Middle East,” a timely discussion that touched upon several of the foreign policy issues being discussed in other sessions at the Aspen Ideas Festival. Josh and Muriel debated in the main Paepcke Auditorium in front of a large audience, which included retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and also Justice Stephen Breyer of the Supreme Court, who complimented their performance and gave the students feedback on their advocacy.

After the debate, Muriel was interviewed by NBC News for their Education Nation blog:

Other highlights of the Aspen trip included taking part in several conference sessions ranging from foreign policy to electoral politics to philosophy to psychology and a special by-invite dinner hosted by Allstate CEO Tom Wilson where the students and the CDL’s David Song interacted with some of the leading names at the festival, including government leaders, business executives, and well-known writers and scholars. Josh and Muriel had the opportunity to meet and converse with many of the luminaries at the festival, including Iraq diplomat Paul Bremer and former Federal Reserve Board Chair Alan Greenspan.

Update (7/23/11): The full video of the Aspen Ideas Festival debate is now available online – you can watch the first ten minutes in the embedded video below or click “Watch Full Program” to watch all 40 minutes:

1 reply
  1. paul r. johnson
    paul r. johnson says:

    Absolutely exceptional exposure for both our students and our league. This is precisely the kind of brand identity, brand management and brand strategy that each CDL school should be looking to replicate. What’s terribly important is getting our kids interested and then training them, as Josh said, to voice themselves and develop self confidence. Additionally, Allstate and the Aspen Institute should equally be commended for recognizing the important of urban debate. Very impressive all around.

    Paul Johnson
    Westinghouse College Prep, Head Coach


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