Life Raft Debate

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There are only

until the
21st Annual Life Raft Debate!
Thursday, October 11th, 2018
7:00 pm

Start treading water...

The Life Raft Debate

An Event that Spans Two Centuries (and two millennia)

In the Life Raft Debate, we imagine that there has been a nuclear war, and the survivors (the audience) are setting sail to rebuild society from the ground up.  There is a group of academic-types vying to get on the raft, and only one seat is left.  Each professor has to argue that his or her discipline is the one indispensable area of study that the new civilization will need to flourish.  At the end of the debating, the audience votes and the lucky winner climbs aboard, waving goodbye to the others. 

 Each professor gets to give an introductory account of his or her discipline, then give a brief rebuttal to the others, and, finally, the audience votes all but one panelist off.

Introducing the 2018 Panel:
Courtney Bentley—Curriculum and Teaching
Alex Beringer—English
Emily Gill—Theater
Laura McMillian—Art
Scott Turner—Political Science

Emcee—Scott Varagona (not eligible for votes this time!)

The Life Raft Debate occurs each Founders' Day at 7 pm.





Live Steam the Debate!

What's  New

bullet And the Oar goes to:

The Devil's Advocate: Dr. Scott Varagona!










This may not be my most complete re-hash in LRD history, but it was hard to take notes and participate from the stage. It is never possible to capture the magic that is the Life Raft Debate in a few mere words, so please watch the video of the whole shebang on YouTube here.

Like us on FaceBook and follow us on Twitter at #UMLifeRaft!


Thanks to:

Jay Cofield and the crew providing the video coverage
Marion Brown and her minions
Kristen Gilbert for vote counting via scantron
Steve Forrester
Steve Parker
Palmer Staff
Cheryl Patton
SGA (for funding)
Philosophy club members
All participants, past and future
And last, but not least—All the great audiences!

If you missed the debate this year, watch it here.

bullet The Life Raft Debate on This American Life!


Mighty Mouse

Save the Day
Broadcast: Mar-12-2010

Stories about one person single-handedly taking charge of a situation gone wrong - including one man's mission to rescue two kids who were kidnapped by alleged murderers and taken to Mexico, and another about a professor's mission to keep the educators of a liberal arts college from extinction.


Download the mp3 of the Life Raft Debate segment from the This American Life episode "Save the Day" by clicking here. You can get the whole podcast episode on the This American Life home page.

This American Life will air a segment on UM’s Life Raft Debate during their episode “Save the Day,” which premiers this week. The episode will focus on the 2007 debate, during which Jon Smith scored the first-ever victory for the Devil’s Advocate.

This American Life on Facebook

bullet Watch the FREE webcast at 7 pm sharp!
(or anytime)
bullet Check out this coverage in the Shelby County Reporter


Life Raft Debate Tidbits:

bulletScott Varagona is the only repeat champion (as Devil's advocate)
bullet Only Mathematics has won three oars
bullet 79% of the Champions have come from the College of Arts and Sciences
bullet 7% have come from the College of Fine Arts
bullet 7% have come from the Administration
bullet 7% have been civilians

Of the participants in the 16 previous debates,

bullet 57% have been from the College of Arts and Sciences
bullet 22% have been from the College of Fine Arts
bullet 10% have been from the College of Education
bullet 4% have been from the Michael E. Stephens College of Business
bullet 3% have been from Administration

1% have been “civilians.”

bullet 1% have been Alumni

Who's Representing?

bullet 73% of the programs of instruction at the University of Montevallo have been represented in the Life Raft Debate.

Key Milestones- Past Winners
Click on a name to learn more

bullet 2018 Who knows? It's up to you!
bullet 2017 Devil's Advocate Again! (Varagona)
bullet 2016 Andrea Eckleman-Political Science
bullet 2015 No One--The Devil's Advocate Prevails!
bullet 2014 Robert Barone-History


2013 Scott Varagona-Mathematics

bullet 2012 Brett Noerager-Biology
bullet 2011 Kevin Hope-Physics
bullet 2010 Stephanie Batkie-Medieval Literature

2009 Benton Tyler-Mathematics

bullet 2008 Scott Turner-Political Science


2007  No One--The Devil's Advocate Prevails!
bullet 2006  Philip C. Williams-University Presidency
bullet 2005  Zack Foster-Culinary Arts
bullet 2004  Wilson Fallin‑History
bullet 2003  Stephen Parker‑Sociology
bullet 2002  Michael Patton‑Philosophy
bullet 2001  Luke Hardt‑‑Theater
bullet 2000  Pennie Ticen‑English
bullet 1999  Mike Hardig‑Biology
bullet 1998  Michael Sterner- Mathematics
  more ...

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Creative Commons License
This work by Michael F. Patton, Jr. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.