World's Best

Cornell debate program ranked highest among 800 internationally
Cornell debate program ranked highest among 800 internationally
Monday, November 19, 2012

The Cornell Forensics Society is the top debating program in the world, according to rankings issued today by the International Debate Education Association.

"We created a culture that second best is not enough," Sam Nelson said in an interview today. Director of the university's forensics program, he is a senior lecturer at ILR.

Daily practices and a team deep with talent and members – more than 100 students from across Cornell – have contributed to the team's success, he said.

The group's new campus home – ILR – is another reason, Nelson said.

Since moving to the school three years ago, the team has received support "in every way," he said. "And that's been the difference."

Five years ago, Cornell wasn't ranked among the top 100 teams, Nelson said. Now, it's only the second American team to make it to the top slot. Yale University, knocked to number two by the fresh ratings, was the other top-ranked school.

At December's world debate tournament in Berlin, six Big Red debaters will compete in the season's finale.

The association ranks more than 800 teams from universities and colleges worldwide.

Other teams in the current top 10 are from Canada, England, Australia and the Philippines.

More information about the rankings is at