Returning to Brussels after a week in Ireland felt almost like we were returning home. It was a great feeling to be back with our host families to share the stories of our travels, and to sleep in our own beds again (not to mention all the laundry we were able to do!). This week found us taking the familiar tram ride to Université Libre de Bruxelles, but not for our typical lecture. The first couple of weeks of the program when we met at ULB, it was for preparatory work before our On-Site visits – making sure we were as knowledgeable as possible on the different branches of the European Union and the roles of the Member States as well as current issues. Today, we were able to utilize our knowledge and put it to the test of our fellow students in the form of an official Oxford-style debate. We were split up into two teams (a pro side and a con side) to tackle the claim “The Global War on Terror has been a failure” from a European perspective.
The debate was very insightful, as everyone was so educated and well-read on the subject. The heated debate lasted three rounds: the first round responding directly to the claim of whether or not the Global War on Terror had been a failure, the second round counterarguing each group’s main argument, and the third round left to challenge the opposing sides.
As Georgia Tech students tend to do, everyone made an extra effort and took many extra hours preparing in order to try to outsmart the other side. Secret meetings were held, trash talking ensued, and the overall debate was fantastically done. Both sides made great points, arguing the positive and negative aspects of the War on Terror. And though it was a valiant effort on both parts, the ‘con’ group – who argued that the Global War on Terrorism had not been a failure – gained a slight edge on the opposing ‘pro’ group by focusing more specifically on the European perspective.
This debate was very much a learning process for both teams, regardless of the outcome. It gave us an understanding as to how people who are facing these issues in EU politics might handle them, and helped us to realize just how much we need to look at both perspectives of an issue in order to gain a full awareness and comprehension of the situation.
Although we gained helpful insight into the minds of working politicians within the EU, I still believe a rematch is in order.
What a great summary of our debate! It was definitely an interesting experience and fun to see everyone take their EU knowledge to the next level. It was surprising to see the complexities of the arguments – both pro and con. Honestly, there was so many nuances and different arguments that we could have kept discussing and debating for hours!
The debate was a very intense experience and I was glad to have so many people on the pro-side who were dedicated to research and the discussion of different angles of argument. We all did a very good job of presenting our sides of the debate and it was a close call; I feel that even though our pro-team worked hard, the con-team put in just as much effort and had an arguably more complex side to defend. This was a learning experience for all of us and I’m glad it didn’t devolve into a screaming match and that everyone got to participate. Thank you to Grainne for outlining our team building and game planning in this post and for being one of the round leaders for our group!
Great summary of the debate, Grainne! Both sides definitely worked hard and performed excellently! Also, the con side is down for a rematch any time, anywhere.