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Debate Watch 2012 argues for public participation

Emory University's nationally ranked Barkley Forum debate team and a consortium of student groups will host "Debate Watch 2012," a series of campus viewing parties for each of the presidential and vice presidential debates during this election season.

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Organizers hope the events will increase public engagement with the political process. Members of the Barkley Forum coaching staff, who have vast experience as media commentators and advisors for political debates, will facilitate discussions before and after each debate. Audience members also will cast ballots for who they think performed best. And the public can follow via Twitter @atlantadebate.

"The public cares about the debates, and a majority of voters plan to watch them. Political debates are less filtered than other aspects of political theater, but political partisans from both sides often try to tell the public how to interpret the debates both before and after the exchange," says Bill Newnam, associate executive director of the Barkley Forum.

"We want to share our expertise to help voters cut through the standard media commentary that can overwhelm even the most engaged citizens. We want to empower them to judge with their own minds what they see and what they hear with their own eyes and ears," Newnam says.

In addition to the Barkley Forum, "Debate Watch 2012" is sponsored by the College Political Union, College Republicans, Young Democrats, the Emory Wheel and the Student Government Association. In addition, high school and middle school students are being encouraged through the Atlanta Urban Debate League and the Georgia Forensic Coaches Association to hold similar events or watch and share comments via Twitter.

Dates, times and location

"Debate Watch 2012" will take place in the Harland Cinema of the Dobbs University Center, 605 Asbury Circle, beginning at 8:30 p.m. before each debate.  All debates are scheduled from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.  The events are free and open to the Emory community and the public. The upcoming debates include:

  • Oct. 3: Presidential Debate on Domestic Policy
  • Oct. 11: Vice Presidential Debate on Foreign and Domestic Policy
  • Oct. 16: Presidential Town Hall Debate on Foreign and Domestic Policy
  • Oct. 22: Presidential Debate on Foreign Policy

For more information, contact Bill Newnam, associate executive director of the Barkley Forum at 404-727-6189 or via email at

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