international public policy forum (IPPF)

Ages: Grades 9-12 (HS)

Application Process is closed

**Please Read This In Its Entirety If You Are Interested In Participating**

Thank you for your interest in the Westfield 2018/19 International Public Policy Forum team! This is a unique international written/oral debate competition in which Westfield gets to compete against high school debate teams from around the world. Our team’s guiding principle is excellence. This pursuit of excellence has reaped big rewards for Westfield. We have been participating in this tournament for two years. The first year, we won the whole thing, an utterly amazing accomplishment! Last year, we again made it to the Elite 8 and ended as a World Quarterfinalist!! Even more importantly than our competitive successes, both teams showed amazing growth in so many areas but especially in their writing, analytical ability, team work and individual responsibility. Participation on this team is a major commitment. Our experience these last two years has proved that it was a hugely worthwhile one but we want to be upfront with people that, especially during the periods when papers are due, this takes a lot of time. The tournament’s deadlines have no flexibility. If you are interested in applying for the team, please complete the application and submit it no later than Sunday, September 23rd at 5:00 p.m.

RETURNING STUDENTS PLEASE NOTE: You are not required to submit a writing sample but you must complete the rest of the application including putting forth an outline of a case for either side.  In lieu of the writing sample, please explain what you feel you learned last year, what changes if any you would like to see in this year’s team and what you can uniquely bring to the team this year.

In 2016-2017, 6 Westfield students had an absolutely amazing experience participating in IPPF. Despite it being our first time with this new format, Westfield went all the way becoming the #1 International Public Policy Forum high school team in the world!!  In the 2017-2018 competition, 9 Westfield students again made it to the Elite 8, a feat that only one other school was ever able to do in the history of the tournament. Both years, this competition demanded a tremendous commitment on the part of the team members.  In return, they learned an incredible amount.  I am an appellate attorney and used to teach Legal Writing at UConn Law School.  The IPPF experience amounts to a college-level course and writing seminar.  Working with the same topic over the course of 9 months allowed these kids to delve into the nuances of incredibly complicated international, political, economic and philosophical ideas and really grapple with them. Each round, the students’ thinking and written product got clearer and better.  This is a very unique opportunity but students need to be sure they have the time to give it.  We had an informational meeting on Monday, September 17th during which we explained in detail what would be required.


A high school debate tournament for students in grades 9-12 with an interesting format: Initial rounds are written debates about an issue of public policy; advanced rounds are oral debates. This is a very exciting possibility for those of you who are willing to commit to doing written advocacy in addition to oral advocacy. It will take commitment to an excellent final product but you will learn a lot along the way.


Resolved:  U.S. abdication of international leadership creates dangerous global instability.


Teams of high school students from around the world. To participate, students must be in high school.


The Qualifying Round – Teams from around the world submit essays of no more than 2800 words written from either the Affirmative or Negative perspectives.

The Essay Review Committee then selects the top 64 essays.

Three Elimination Rounds – During the top 64, top 32, and “Sweet 16” rounds, each team will compete against the team with which it is paired. Affirmative and Negative sides will be assigned randomly. The teams selected for these rounds will exchange papers according to the Schedule of Events.  Each debate will consist of four papers: Affirmative Constructive, Negative Constructive, Affirmative Rebuttal, Negative Rebuttal. Affirmative/Negative Constructive papers should be no more than 2,800 words and Rebuttals should be no more than 1400 words.


The eight schools reaching the finals will do a oral debate in New York City with all expenses paid for up to 3 Team Members and their coach. Teams selected for the finals may bring additional team members at their own expense. If Westfield is fortunate enough to make it to the Elite 8 for a third year in a row, all Team Members will be warmly invited to attend although, other than the 3 members of the oral team, they will do so at their own expense. Last year, we were able to significantly reduce these expenses and we will try our best to do so again this year although there is no guarantee. The Coach reserves the right to defray the costs of some Team Members more than others based on the respective contribution of each Team Member to the team taking into account their respective effort and the work they have done throughout the year. Traveling Team Members must be on the team roster and must have participated in the previous rounds of written work. Before the teams travel to New York, each of the final eight teams will submit an Affirmative Constructive. This can be either a completely new paper or one that has been revised from previous rounds. This paper will be used in the quarterfinal, semifinal and final rounds. 

In New York, all eight teams will engage in a quarterfinal debate against one other team before a panel of three judges. Teams advancing to the semifinal rounds will have at least 30 minutes to prepare before the live oral debates begin. The two teams advancing to the final round will have at least two and a half hours to prepare before the start of the final debate. A live panel of judges will determine the winner of each semifinal round and of the final round. The format for oral arguments will be an interactive exchange between the two teams, and between the teams and the judges. Three members of each team will participate in the oral arguments. There will be a moderator for all oral arguments. Each team member will give one speech.  There is cross-examination and a period for the judges to question the debaters.


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Somewhat amazingly for a debate tournament, there is the opportunity to win cash prizes!! We have a very active scholarship program at Westfield which aims to make our programs available to students from underserved areas.  We work closely and are affiliated with the Legacy Foundation of Hartford and other schools from underserved areas in our state. Unfortunately, funds for these programs have been severely cut because of the state budget woes.  As a result, access to the Westfield programs is at risk.  These kids have become part of the Westfield family. In 2017, the IPPF team voted to give the $10,000 we won to scholarships.  In my mind, this is what really made them champions.

We have absolutely no guarantee that we will win any money this year but, if we do, after subtracting for any team expenses all prize money goes to scholarships.  A big part of the ethos of Westfield is being a welcoming community for each and every child who makes their way to us. Diversity on every level is a foundational Westfield principle. This tournament requires an amazing amount of commitment and time - from both the students and the adults involved. Knowing that, if our team is fortunate enough to make it to the final rounds, the prize money allows children to get to experience debate who otherwise could not makes it all worthwhile. Not only will our students learn a tremendous amount substantively and about themselves, it will be a labor of love because, if they are successful, they will be paying it forward. It is a double win!

How the awards work

  1. Teams eliminated in the first eliminations round of 64 will receive individual medals

  2. Teams eliminated in the round of 32 will each receive individual medals.

  3. Teams eliminated in the Sweet 16 round will each receive $400.

  4. Teams eliminated in the Elite Eight will each receive $750.

  5. Teams eliminated in the Semifinals will each receive $1,500.

  6. The runner-up will receive $3,500.

  7. The first place team will receive a $10,000 prize


Only a limited number of students will be accepted to be on the team. Anyone - both new and returning students - who is interested needs to complete the application by Sunday, September 23rd by 5 PM. The team will be announced by Sunday, September 23rd by 10:00 PM and the students selected will register by Friday, September 28th at 5:00 PM.

The team will have an initial meeting at the Meetinghouse on Monday, September 24th at 5:00 PM to start figuring out which position they want to take, their arguments, and how they will divide the research and writing responsibilities. (If necessary, Team Members can attend some of the meetings virtually but we prefer, if at all possible, for everyone to be present in person for the first meeting.) There will be two more meetings the following Mondays which can be conducted in person or virtually. The deadline for submitting and editing the first draft of the team's paper will be decided at the meeting on September 24th.

Timeline for submission of first paper

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At this point, Westfield has some extremely qualified IPPFers. Those who have been on our team for two years, won the entire competition their first year and made it to the Elite 8 again the following year, a feat only one other school in the history of the competition ever achieved. They bring tremendous experience to our team. This year, we will have Advanced and Novice divisions of the team. All new team members will automatically be in the Novice Division. The Advanced Division will have primary responsibility for the writing. The Novice Division will have primary responsibility for the research and sources, cite checking and citations. The intent of this structure is to maximize efficiency and equity. All team members will be ultimately responsible for producing the best possible product our team can produce; to achieve this there will be fluidity as necessary between the two divisions.


There will be a Team Captain and an Executive Board consisting of: a Head of Writing; a Head of Research, a Head of Editing and a Head of the Oral Team. The Team Captain and members of the Executive Board shall be selected by the Coach. Should the team make it to the Elite 8, the Coach will select the 3 team members and 3 alternates who will participate in the oral arguments. This decision will be made based on the Coach’s determination of who she thinks will do the best job.

Consequences for Failure to fulfill commitments

If a Team Member fails to substantially fulfill their responsibilities in any round, the Coach, after consultation with the Team Captain, will speak to the Team Member and let her or him know. If it happens a second time, the Coach will let the Team Member and their parents know that unfortunately they will no longer be on the team. Similarly, if a team member becomes unable to fulfill his or her responsibilities to the team for any reason, they will be asked to drop out. (Please Note:  In both these situations, no fees will be refunded.)  

It’s a matter of equity and respect to all involved. A very important lesson that IPPF teaches is responsibility, team work and accountability. We completely understand how busy you all are. But all the members of the Team are. If one Team Member fails to substantially fulfill his or her responsibilities, that necessarily increases the responsibilities and work of other Team Members which isn’t fair.

What constitutes “substantial fulfillment” in any given situation, will be determined by the Coach after consultation with the Team Captain and Executive Board.

Communication is absolutely essential to effective team functioning. If a Team Member is sick or is going to be absent from a Team meeting, it is critical that they contact the Coach and the Team Captain before the meeting to let them know. They also need to contact the Team Captain subsequent to the meeting to figure out what they missed and to ask what their assignments are. Because meetings can be attended virtually and work can be done virtually, the expectation is that all Team Members will attend meetings and do their work unless they are very sick or have a unchangeable conflict. If a Team Member is sick and unable to complete their assignments, it is critical that they contact the Coach and the Team Captain to let them know and that the Team Member arranges to get another Team Member to do their work.

If a Team Member knows in advance that they will be away for multiple days, they must notify the Coach and Team Captain as soon as they know. The Coach will consult with the Team Captain and Executive Board to determine if the Team Member’s absence will result in his or her’s failure to substantially fulfill their responsibilities in that round.


Both the team member and parent/guardian must have read the information on this page in its entirety and upon registration will be asked to affix their names to the registration form prior to paying the fee.

For the period up until the submission on October 22nd, there will be a participation fee of $103 per student to cover the extra group meetings and all the editing time. There is no additional registration fee. If the team qualifies to move forward, the fee for extra meeting times and editing thereafter will be $78 per student for each additional round.

**This is a wonderful opportunity for students who are excited to do it and are interested in improving their analytical and critical thinking, research and persuasive writing skills and ability to work effectively on a team as well as developing their personal responsibility and accountability. Please make sure you are fully committed to excellence and creating the best possible written product you can before applying.  This will ensure that the team is all on the same page and that each member is committed to doing what it takes to produce their very best work.  Also look carefully at the schedule and make sure you can commit to the deadlines.  We have tremendous writers, researchers and debaters at Westfield. You never know how far this team will go!