Upcoming Workshop, July 18, Faithful Voices: Navigating Speech and Debate in a Postmodern Landscape

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Faithful Voices: Navigating Speech and Debate in a Postmodern Landscape

Lead Presenter/Facilitator: Ben Voth, Southern Methodist University

Additional Presenters/Roundtable DiscussantsMike Ingram, Whitworth University; Brandon Knight, William Carey University; Sheila Ritchie, Abilene Christian University; Rebekah Heflin Whitaker, Union University

Date/Time: Thursday, July 18, 2024 | 11:30 am – 3:00 pm EDT


Description: Only a few understand the complexities of coaching collegiate speech and debate in the twenty-first century. However, even fewer understand the complexities of coaching collegiate speech and debate as a Christian. Whereas many of the issues are the same, like students and administration questioning the usefulness of speech and debate, Christian coaches uniquely have to navigate the postmodern landscape. This virtual workshop aims to explore how Christian coaches can better guide students and programs in expressing their Christian perspective authentically even while they negotiate the political and ideological tensions of the forensic world. Throughout this workshop, several other distinguished forensics directors will share specific insights on how to remain a faithful voice despite the effects of postmodernity.

Ben Voth (PhD, University of Kansas) is an academic expert in debate, argumentation, communication, public speaking and rhetoric. He is specialist on questions of genocide, political debate, humor and politics, and general public controversies. He researches and teaches with a goal of equipping individuals to have a voice in the world. He has published four books on how individual communication abilities can positively change the world: James Farmer Jr.: The Great Debater; Social Fragmentation and the Decline of American Democracy: The End of the Social Contract; and The Rhetoric of Genocide: Death as a Text. His most current book Debate as Global Pedagogy: Rwanda Rising details a variety of efforts globally to combat genocide with debate instruction while focusing on the unique events of the 1994 Rwandan genocide and a 25 year anniversary debate institute he helped lead for 400 high school students and more than 50 high school teachers in Rwanda in 2019. Voth’s unique approach to communication emphasizes the role of free speech, dissent, and argument in preventing and reversing problems of human injustice. Specializing in a rhetorical studies approach allows him to teach courses in public speaking, argumentation and debate, persuasion theory, political communication, communication and ethnoviolence, communication and genocide. As director of speech and debate, Voth has coached more than a twenty five national and international champions of collegiate speech and debate events including International Public Debate Association’s varsity competitions, novice policy debate, persuasive speaking, communication analysis, and impromptu speaking. Connect with Ben here: https://www.smu.edu/dedman/about/administrative-directory/voth

Mike Ingram (PhD, Ohio University) is Professor of Communication Studies at Whitworth University. Ingram coached forensics at Carson-Newman University and Ohio University before coming to Whitworth in 1988. His teams have placed in the top five at national tournaments for the International Public Debate Association (IPDA) and the National Christian College Forensics Association (NCCFA), and they have placed in the top 20 at the National Forensics Association and the National Parliamentary Debate Association. Ingram has served in leadership roles in the Northwest Forensics Conference, the IPDA and the NCCFA; at Whitworth, he has chaired the communication studies department and has served a seven-year appointment as associate provost for faculty development and scholarship. He has been recognized as the coach of the year by the NFC, the NCCFA and the IPDA. Currently he is president of the Northwest Forensics Conference and the National Christian College Forensics Association. Connect with Mike here: https://forms.whitworth.edu/directory/index/person/mingram

Brandon Knight (PhD, University of Southern Mississippi) is Assistant Professor of Speech Communication and Director of Forensics at William Carey University. Brandon also earned an MDiv with an emphasis in Biblical Studies from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Prior to teaching in the Academy, Brandon served as a youth pastor for five years at two locations in the local Hub City area and, more recently, served as an interim at Leaf River Baptist Church in Collins, Mississippi. Brandon’s research is featured in the Journal of Communication and Religion, Management Communication Quarterly, the Journal of Christian Teaching Practice (in Communication Studies), the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion, and, most recently, the Journal of the Evangelical Homiletics Society. Connect with Brandon here: https://www.wmcarey.edu/contact/brandon-knight

Sheila Ritchie (MA, Abilene Christian University) has taught college and university students since 1993, and finds some of her greatest joy in watching her students succeed. She has been privileged to work with some outstanding students and gets to cheer them on daily. Ritchie’s primary field is teaching Communication at Abilene Christian University where she is an Associate College Professor. She teaches a wide range of courses designed to improve communication, reasoning, and delivery. Sheila is also the Director of Forensics and Debate and has coached ACU’s nationally-ranked IPDA debate team for the last six years. In 2021, she was honored to be chosen as the International Public Debate Association Coach of the Year. When not with students, Sheila spends as much time as possible with her four grown children and her husband of 30+ years. Her family often joins her in debate related activities, and two of her children teach on the collegiate level. Whether teaching, coaching debate, or helping students with public speaking contests, Sheila has a passion for seeing students live out their potential and helping them along the way. Connect with Sheila here: https://acu.edu/faculty/sheila-ritchie/

Rebekah Heflin Whitaker (PhD, Louisiana State University) has been at Union University since 2019. She currently serves as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication Arts and Director of Debate. Whitaker is a member of the National Communication Association and is the Secretary of the Applied Communication Division. She is also a member of the International Communication Association. Whitaker’s research focuses on the intersections of interpersonal and organizational communication and communication pedagogy. Whitaker is married to James, a waterfowl biologist for Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency. Together the Whitakers are members of Calvary Baptist Church and enjoy travel, cooking, and planning activities but taking naps instead. They are managed by the Queen of the Household, their senior Dachshund, Daisy. Connect with Rebekah here: https://www.uu.edu/dept/commarts/faculty/rebekah-whitaker.cfm

Registration Fee: $50.00


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