GDI Program Descriptions


5 Week Zag Scholars Policy Program (June 25 – July 29)

The Scholars Program represents the most experienced and advanced lab at the GDI. Launched in 2001 the Scholars lab was designed to provide a top tier lab experience to a small group of talented and motivated varsity students. We offer a top lab experience taught by a faculty who are among the most respected and successful college coaches and debaters in the nation. Your lab will also be the tip of the spear for our argument development and research production. Here are some highlights of the Scholars experience:


  • The Faculty. Returning to Direct the Scholars will be GDI Senior Faculty Adrienne Brovero. Adrienne is the Director of Debate at the University of Mary Washington and one of the most respected judges and coaches in the nation. While an assistant coach at Northwestern her teams won multiple national championships. As a college debater at Wake Forest she won a Copeland Award, 3 first rounds bids to the NDT, and was in the the Semi Finals of the NDT. Joining Adrienne will be Lincoln Garrett. Lincoln is the Head Debate Coach at the University of Kentucky and also coaches at Niles North HS. Lincoln was a top debater at Liberty University and is considered one of the best researchers in the country. We also welcome back Sarah Lundeen, Coach at the University of West Georgia, to the Scholars lab. Sarah previously taught in our Scholars lab and Four Week Varsity Program and we are really excited she has brought her talents back to the GDI!
  • A wonderful place to spend a few weeks. The GDI is hosted on the campus of Gonzaga University. We are a small private Jesuit college in Spokane, Washington. The campus is beautiful, the classrooms are state of the art, all within walking distance of parks, movie theatres, restaurants, and stores. We’ll definitely give you enough time off so you can explore some of your surroundings.
  • Our track record of success. This lab has a strong record of success. Some notable alum who have gone onto a great measure of success in debate and life include Nate Cohn, Jessica Yeats, Sean Kennedy, Joe LeDuc and more recently the 2013 TOC Champion John Spurlock, 2014 TOC Finalist Lev Asimow, and the 2014 CFL Champions Aditya Rout and Anav Sharma.
  • The curriculum. The GDI believes in a balanced approach to your debate education that emphasizes research, theory and practice, practice, practice. The Scholars curriculum is rigorous and focuses on teaching students both advanced research and advocacy techniques. Scholars are expected to be internally motivated with a strong desire to explore and research the topic. Not only will you play a primary role in argument development and research but you will participate in a large number of practice debates, speeches, and skills work. All this is supplemented with a lecture and workshop series designed exclusively for this lab.

Requirements for Admission. While we will certain review and consider any application the admitted Scholars are generally entering their junior or senior season and have demonstrated potential for success at the varsity level. Here is what you’ll need to submit in order to complete your application. The general application is required and it is possible you can be admitted on the strength of your past success. If you are not sure if your past tournament results are enough we encourage you to submit a personal statement and letter(s) of rec outlined below.

  • The general application found on the GDI application page (required)
  • Personal statement introducing who you are, why you want to study in this, what you can bring to the lab, and anything else you’d like to share that might sway the admissions committee. (optional)
  • At least one letter of recommendation for a coach, former lab leader or someone who both knows debate AND knows you. You can send that letter to (optional)

We strongly encourage you to apply early. Once we receive your application it will be reviewed by our Scholars Admissions Committee and you will be notified of your admissions status. If you are not admitted we will offer you a spot on our waitlist and/or a spot in our Four Week Varsity lab.


5 Week Sophomores Policy Program (June 25 – July 29)
In just four seasons the five week sophomores program at the GDI has become a destination for rising sophomores from across the nation. While we have to say goodbye to Jim Schultz and Chris Thomas who are both leaving debate to pursue careers in their chosen fields we are very excited to welcome 2 new amazing faculty to this lab. The 5 Week Sophs Program will now be directed by Geoff Lundeen, Director of Debate at the University of West Georgia. Joining Geoff in the Sophomores lab will be Martin Osborne, assistant coach at Fullerton Union High School and former top speaker at the National Debate Tournament. Please visit our faculty page for me details on these talented coaches.

This lab is designed for sophomores, or anyone entering their second year of debate, preparing to make a jump to the next level and has attracted some of the best, brightest and most dedicated sophomores from across the nation. Students can expect:

  • A dedicated faculty with extensive experience working with students of your experience.
  • A lab of your peers who share many of the same goals and who will work to create a positive lab environment.
  • A lecture series tailored to you. We will reinforce the fundamentals while introducing more advanced theory and techniques.
  • Practical application. We think you learn best by doing. To that end you can expect many, many, many rounds, speeches, and other skills work designed to put everything you’re learning into practice on a daily basis.
  • A really fun experience. For most sophomores this will be your first extended lab experience (and for many of you your first lab experience). We want to make sure you have fun while you’re here and to that end you can expect your faculty to balance a lot of work with a lot of fun lab activities.

This lab will fill up quickly so we highly encourage you to apply early!


4 Week Policy Program (July 2 – July 29)
The four week programs continue to attract a wide range of students looking for a challenging lab environment that combines an emphasis on research with plenty of opportunities for practice and skill work. While they arrive a week later than our Scholars the Four Week labs are still major players in the development of the GDI research set. Upon arrival you, will have the opportunity to begin debating immediately with the early files produced by faculty and Scholars as you begin to also develop your own arguments within labs. You will primarily spend the first 1-2 weeks focusing extensively on original research and argument development in your labs while also attending lectures in a wide range of subjects. Practice debates, speech redo’s, and lectures will intensify during the last 2 weeks of your program culminating in the GDI tournament, a six round competitive tournament. In addition you will have the chance to work with the faculty of your choice in specialized skill labs that will meet outside of your primary labs.
2 Week Policy Programs (July 16 – July 29)
The two week programs were the inaugural programs at the very first GDI over 40 years ago and continue to provide an outstanding lab experience to students of all skill levels who are looking for a high quality camp experience in a shorter time frame.   These labs are divided among skill levels, so students will be placed in labs with others of their level of experience. All these programs are truly “immersion” programs in the sense that they pack the best of all our programs into a 2 week experience.  Given the time constraints of a two week lab these programs primarily devote themselves to skill work including practice debates, speech redo’s, speaking drill and other activities geared toward the development of a students’ overall skill set. In addition the students will attend a lecture series suited to their individual skill level. The institute will culminate in the GDI Tournament, a 6 rounds tournament featuring some tough competition and highly qualified judging. If you want to get the most out of 2 weeks of debate camp this is the program for you. You will not find a better 2 week institute experience anywhere in the nation.


2 Week Novice Program (July 16 – July 29)

Much like our other two week programs the Novice Program has been around since the first year the GDI opened its doors. This program is designed for students of any age, but who have very little to no debate experience.  Students will focus on skills building and learning the fundamentals of speaking, research and advocacy in the context of competitive policy debate.   The primary focus for this lab is the development of your skill set through lecture, small group discussion, a regular practice regiment.  We are very lucky to have two very accomplished educators teaching the Novice Program. If you are planning on joining your schools debate team or just want to possess the skills that debate can teach we highly encourage you to consider the GDI Novice Program.


1 Week Public Forum Program (July 8 – July 15)

We are very pleased to launch our first PF camp in the summer of 2017. With the rapid growth of PF across the country the GDI has decided to offer a short program to accommodate PF students looking to enhance and develop the skills fundamental to success in this growing format. This lab will focus on developing a student’s critical thinking, speaking, research and advocacy skills while also reinforcing fundamental strategies and understandings of how to effectively compete at any level of PF competition. We hope you’ll consider joining us for this inaugural event.

Jon Williamson – Jon is a former policy debater for Gonzaga and national quarter-finalist in parliamentary debate for Cal State Long Beach who has been coaching since 2006. Jon has been recognized as a diamond coach by the NSDA and is the Assistant Director of Forensics at Nova High School in Florida. Jon has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Gonzaga University and a master’s degree in political science from California State University, Los Angeles. Jon has coached a state champion in policy debate, a national champion in congressional debate, state finalists in parliamentary debate, and TOC/NSDA Octo-finalists in public forum debate. Jon’s public forum debaters have championed tournaments including the California Round Robin, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Long Beach, the Cypress Bay Round Robin, Cypress Bay, La Costa Canyon, and the Nova Titan,
Christopher Jackson – University of Iowa.  Bio Coming.