The Atlanta Urban Debate League is committed to providing excellent debate education programs, services, and opportunities to diverse students, educators, and members of the community by teaching, empowering, and equipping them with advocacy and life skills necessary to make a profound and positive impact in the world. For more than 30 years, the Atlanta Urban Debate League has cultivated a forum in which local, regional, and national communities can access the skills of critical thinking, research, public presentation, and advocacy through quality debate education. Visit for more information.



Atlanta Urban Debate League's 2022-2023 Impact

706 K-12 students served during the 2022-2023 season
48 K-12 schools participated in AUDL programming
1146 AUDL Student Intern Hours in Debate Education Programming
421 Community volunteers engaged with AUDL programming

Programs & Resources

During the tournament season (September-April) the AUDL and metro-Atlanta member schools co-host competitions serving elementary school, middle school, and high school students from schools across the metro-Atlanta area. Debaters develop critical thinking and communication skills by participating in debate rounds where they have to advocate for both sides of a topic. Emory students and members of the Atlanta community serve as volunteer judges at tournaments.

A weekly program that provides AUDL debaters an opportunity to enrich and expand their debate skills by receiving instruction from college debaters, interns, volunteers, alumni, and AUDL staff through live on-line instruction.

Emory University students, staff, faculty, and alumni provide instruction in critical thinking, writing, presentation skills, active listening, and effective argumentation through both virtual and in-person site visits to member K-12 schools during the tournament season.

Debate teams and guests are invited to visit campus for debate education programming and an introduction to college life at Emory.

This program provides AUDL students that are accepted to participate opportunities to travel and represent their schools and the league at regional and national tournaments. Debate Ambassadors also serve as peer mentors and role models for other debaters in the league.

The AUDL Theory/Practice/Community seminar convenes several times each semester (1) to discuss a pre-circulated essay on pedagogy theory, (2) to share strategies for successful AUDL site visits, and (3) to reflect on transitions into and out of the space of the university. Previous discussions have centered on Paulo Freire’s account of the banking method of education, Lauren Berlant’s conception of inconvenience, and wealth disparities both at Emory and in American urban centers. AUDL interns attend at least one seminar each semester in preparation for successful engagements with communities around Atlanta.

Debate education programming is available throughout the summer for both students and coaches. Programming includes multiple one-week camps, digital workshops, in-person workshops for coaches and educators, and the Coach Leadership Fellows Program for coaches of league member schools.

AUDL staff and volunteers provide educators in the metro-Atlanta region and beyond with an instructional method that brings the skill set of debate to the classroom, regardless of subject matter.


Become a volunteer

The lasting success of the AUDL would not be possible without volunteers. Volunteers do not need prior debate experience, only the genuine desire to help students develop their voice and critical thinking skills. Some volunteer opportunities include:  

  • Judging at a debate tournament
  • Tutor at the Digital Debate Center
  • Instruct at a debate practice at a school
  • Participate at an Emory Campus Visit
  • Organize a group volunteer opportunity for a club or organization in AUDL programming

Emory Students can find volunteer opportunities on the The Hub
Emory Employees and Alumni can find volunteer opportunities on Emory OPEN

Email Christy Bradley ( or Ali Madani ( for more information about volunteering with the AUDL.


Debate has engaged my students, both general education and gifted, in conversations about topics beyond the curriculum. My students are becoming better listeners and collaborators. It has taught them to think more critically about what they hear and what they read.
– Pamela Jackson, L.P. Miles Elementary Debate Coach



For more debate education resources, visit

Additionally, a survey of active debaters across the AUDL revealed that

96% of students believe "Debate has improved my ability to give speeches and presentations."
86% of students believe "Debate has increased my confidence."
83% of students believe "Debate has improved my writing skills."
79% of students believe "Debate has improved my ability to work with others."


For more than 30 years, the Atlanta Urban Debate League has cultivated a forum in which local and regional communities can access the skills of critical thinking, research, public presentation, and advocacy through quality debate education.

Founded in 1985 as a partnership between the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) and the Barkley Forum for Debate, Deliberation, and Dialogue of Emory University, the AUDL sought to provide APS students interested in debate with school, tournament, and workshop programs. Early funding from the APS, Phillips Petroleum Company, Gulton Foundation, and Atlanta Bar Association allowed over 3,000 students to engage with debate programs by 1995.

Due to the success in Atlanta -- the birthplace of the current urban debate league movement, others invested in the Atlanta program and used the AUDL template to launch similar programs in New York, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Miami, and beyond. Thanks to these early efforts of working in partnership with dedicated local educators, school systems, universities, and community partners there are now over 20 UDL programs in major U.S. cities. Over 40,000 students and teachers have been served by the program. 90% have graduated from high school; 75% have matriculated to college.

Adapting to the ever-changing landscape of communities, the AUDL has extended its programs to reach across dozens of counties and into neighboring states as it continues to be a laboratory for innovation in debate practices. 

Since 2010, Debate Across the Curriculum, the measurable initiative to train teachers with the integration of debate fundamentals as an instructional method, has generated much interest and demand in school systems across the country. Hundreds of teachers have since completed this training which has expanded the reach of debate to thousands of students outside of traditional debate competitions.

In 2014, the league nearly doubled in participation, propelling students to seek additional opportunities in debate. What resulted was a collection of veteran AUDL debaters establishing the debate ambassadors’ program, an initiative that allows the group to travel on regional and national circuits to compete against top debaters in Atlanta, the southeast, and the nation.

Seeing the benefits produced through their secondary student participation in debate, Atlanta Public Schools requested an AUDL pilot of elementary debate programming in 2014. The pilot took off, and the division opened up to welcome all elementary schools in the state and southeast region.

The AUDL has continued moving forward with its mission of impacting the quality and accessibility of education and life skills through debate education alongside new committed, community engagement colleagues.

Leaders, Staff, Student Interns

James Roland

Executive Director, Atlanta Urban Debate League

Christy Bradley

Director, Atlanta Urban Debate League

Ali Madani, Ph.D.

Assistant Director, Atlanta Urban Debate League

Elysia Tillman

Debate Specialist, Atlanta Urban Debate League

AUDL Student Interns

Ashley Alves '24C

Kekeli Amekudzi '26C

Jayden Bai '27C

Ameya Bellamkonda '25C

Jake Blechman '26C

Kaya Binetti '25C

Milan Browning '27C

Anhhuy Do '24C

Aerin Engelstad '27C

Delaney Ford '27C

Emilyn Hazelbrook '25C

Kayla Holmes '25C

Ethan Jacobs '27C

Adrian Johnson '27C

Abbas Khambatti '25C

Joy Lee '26C

Darby Osborne '26C

Gina Park '26C

Deanna Sharpe '26C

Gregory Tolmochow '25C

Doussou Toure '25C

Logan Viera '26C

Thomas Wainwright '27C

Mackenzie Williams '25C

Megan Xing '26C

Ashley Alves '24C

Kekeli Amekudzi '26C

Jake Blechman '26C

Anhhuy Do '24C

Emilyn Hazelbrook '25C

Joyce Korir '23C

Joy Lee '26C

Darby Osborne '26C

Gina Park '26C

Adele Periera '23C

Ronald W. Poole, II '23C

Amna Sadig '23C

Deanna Sharpe '26C

Ayusha Shrestha '23C

Doussou Toure '25C

Logan Viera '26C

Mackenzie Williams '25C

Megan Xing '26C

Sophia Ahn '22C

Trenade Brotherton '22C

Summer Bushman '22C

Derrik Chen '25C

Anhhuy Do '24C

Joyce Korir '23C

Albert Liu '22C

Adele Periera '23C

Ronald Poole, II '23C

Jaden Rams '25C

Amna Sadig '23C

Amália Tenuta '22C

Jerusalem Tsige '23C

Jennie Youn '22C