Department of Theatre & Speech

Competitive Speaking at Hillsdale College

The Department of Theatre & Speech offers three distinct opportunites for students interested in pusuing speech at a competitive-level:

For more information on any of these programs, please contact Dr. Kirstin Kiledal, Director of Speech.

Hillsdale College Debate

Nationally recognized in collegiate debate, Hillsdale's program has been a growing force since 1983. In 2004/2005, the National Parliamentary Debate Association ranked Hillsdale 38 of 372 competing institutions. Hillsdale debaters don't conform to one mold; they are students of disciplines from art to chemistry and bring multiple levels of experience. They do share some traits—perseverance and a competitive spirit. Hillsdale debaters participate fully at the national level in Lincoln-Douglas (National Forensic Association) and Parliamentary Debate (National Parliamentary Debate Association). The 2010-2011 season will find students competing at Butler University, Lafayette College, Creighton University, Central Missouri, Bowling Green State University, Webster University, Pi Kappa Delta Nationals, and National Forensics Association Nationals.

Hillsdale College Forensics

Hillsdale College forensics takes a classical view of what is widely viewed as a progressive discipline. Competing against state school powerhouses the forensics team competes well in spite, or perhaps because of, its traditional foundation.

The forensic speech is, according to Aristotle, one of three types of public discourse. The other two types being the epideictic, which deals with praising and blaming an act in order to build consensus about the present, and the deliberative, which centers on persuading an audience in relation to a future course of action. 

A forensic address is historically categorized as a legal argument, designed to persuade an audience concerning the justice or injustice of the past. Modern day inter-collegiate forensics continues in the Aristotelian tradition of the legal speech. In lieu of ancient Greece's juries of hundreds are college instructors and coaches weighing the merits of each student's oral delivery from round to round of competition.

This history is not lost on Hillsdale College's forensics team, which is grounded in an Aristotelian view of rhetoric and competitive forensics.

Mock Trial

Mock Trial is a participatory immersion-based course designed to develop and hone students' critical thinking skills by learning and applying elements of the judicial trial process on a weekly basis. As students gain mastery over trial concepts, they will be asked to select from, employ, and evaluate multiple strategies to inform, argue, critique, and persuade.

Students test the concepts and techniques they learn in the course by competing in Mock Trial tournaments each semester. Select students in the course also have the opportunity to represent Hillsdale College at the AMTA Mock Trial Tournament National Championship series each spring. In its first competitive season, Hillsdale College's Mock Trial team won the Emerging Team award at the Loras College National Invitational Mock Trial Tournament held January 28-29, 2011.

Mock Trial is coached by Hillsdale alumnus, attorney, and Assistant Director of Career Services, Keith Miller.