There are only
16th Annual Life Raft
Thursday, October 10th, 2013
Start treading water...
The Life Raft Debate
An Event that Spans Two Centuries
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
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.
The Life Raft Debate occurs each Founders' Day at 7 pm.
Here's the 2012 lineup:
Kevin Hope--Physics (Defending Champion)
Andrew Battista--Alt-Ac (Google it)
Bryn Chancellor--English/Creative Writing
Claire M. Edwards--Communication Science & Disorders
And the Oar goes to:
Dr. Brett Noerager from Biology!
It was a full house at Palmer Auditorium for the 15th Annual Life Raft Debate. In fact, so many people tried to tweet their questions and comments the local internet crashed . My apologies to everyone who tried to watch at home—I understand many people could not access the streaming video. If you want to watch the show, it can be found here: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/26079668/highlight/297677. I hope you give it a look; it was a really good debate.
Kevin Hope (Physics, Defending Champion) Without ever mentioning physics, Kevin literally begged for a “permanent” spot on the life raft and then proceeded to attack all the other participants, often with hilarious results. He added that, as defending champion, it was his duty to lose the debate. He didn’t win, but for someone who never said anything positive about his discipline, he did quite well
Andrew Battista (Alt-Ac) Andrew claimed that the old disciplines in the colleges and universities were obsolete and counterproductive. He cited his own path from a PhD in English to working in Information Science to illustrate that unfettered inquiry, across and outside of typical disciplinary boundaries, was the key to employment in the contemporary world.
Claire M. Edwards (Communication Science & Disorders) Claire claimed that since she could help with speech and language, which is essential for meaningful thought, from the cradle to the grave, her presence on the raft was required to halt a descent into a tower-of-Babel situation in the new world.
Anthony Kelley (Philosophy) Anthony claimed that political philosophy held the key to forming a rational, effective government that would avoid a future repeat of the apocalypse that we are now living through. Only through the reasoning and logic employed by philosophers will we be able to make a go of it wherever we end up.
Bryn Chancellor (English/Creative Writing) Bryn read a story she’d written about the life raft debate scenario that left many in the audience ready to jump overboard in the wake of its poignancy. She ended by saying we should write our stories and save ourselves.
Brett Noerager (Biology) Brett claimed that besides clean water and steaks, biology could give us everything from sex to drugs (beer) to rock and roll (well, at least Marvin Gaye). He also rocked some shorts and a floatie, and pointed out that we needed a bigger boat…
Stephen Parker (Devil’s Advocate) In encouraging the audience to leave all the panelists behind, Steve said that all the participants had an understandable but vested interest in promoting their own narrow fields. As such, he said they merely offer answers from their own perspective, while what the audience would find in the new world was more and more questions. Echoing Tom Joad, Steve said that the audience should leave the seat on the raft open and that whenever there was a question without a clear answer or a pat answer that seemed just too easy, the Devil’s Advocate would be there.
In the rebuttal session, the quips flew fast and furious and, quite frankly, you need to watch it to see what happened.
The moderator, Michael Patton, returned after a one- year hiatus and began talking to empty chairs and then forgot the rebuttal period entirely. It is hoped that he will soon make a full recovery.
600 votes were cast by an audience that exceeded 800 people, and in the end, after a marathon scantron session thanks to Dr. Kristen Gilbert, Brett Noerager took the oar home for Biology. This marks the 5th time the oar has gone to Harman Hall in what looks to be like an insurmountable lead for the Department of Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics. C’mon, other departments and colleges! Let’s stop the tyranny of the scientists and mathematicians! Be sure to sign up for next year’s debate—you only have 360 days…
The Life Raft Debate on This American Life!
Save the Day
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.
If you cannot join us at Eclipse Coffee & Books Saturday at 2:00 pm for the Premier Party, the broadcast information is below or you can check your local listings.
We are also planning an event on campus once school resumes where we will rebroadcast the show and hear from some special guests. You can find the promo for this week's here:
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Watch the FREE webcast at 7 pm sharp!:
Life Raft Debate Tidbits:
|There has never been a repeat champion
||Only Mathematics and Biology have won twice
||77% of the Champions have come from the College of Arts and Sciences
|8% have come from the College of Fine Arts
||8% have come from the Administration
||8% have been civilians
Of the participants in the 15 previous debates,
||73% of the programs of instruction at the University of Montevallo
have been represented in the Life Raft Debate.