Following the already consolidated tradition of the university debate program, the Center Science and Innovation for Development (SCiDEV) launched on the 1st of October 2022, the Fourth Edition of the University Debate Laboratory – From Words to Action, part of the National Youth Debate Program on Social and Economic Model for Albania 2021 – 2024 with the support of the Open Society Foundation in Albania. Through this program, SCiDEV has strengthened the capacities of university students to be proactive citizens, equipped with critical thinking and public speaking skills, who participate in the decision-making processes of their community as well as in the public life of the country.
Since 2019, SCiDEV selects, trains, and engages students from public and private universities in Albania in a national debate championship where teams debate on Albania’s development model and important issues related to the country’s integration into the European Union. In addition to ongoing capacity development, students who are part of the University Debate Laboratory can apply to participate in the “From Words to Action” Campaign, whereby they receive financial support and mentoring to advocate for socio-political topics building upon research and utilizing digital activism as well.
Following its goal to support and promote sustainable socio-economic development, in the three previous editions of the University Debate Laboratory and the two editions of the “From Words to Action Campaign,” SCiDEV has successfully:
- Engaged 14 public and private universities in 5 different cities of Albania.
- Strengthened critical thinking and public speaking skills of about 400 debating students.
- Created the university debate blog, which stores +100 publications of students and lecturers engaged in the debate program.
- Strengthened research and advocacy skills of 22 students participating in the debate program through dedicated grants and mentoring under the “From Words to Action” Campaign.
- Published 5 policy papers under the “From Words to Action” Campaign on the following topics:
- Youth proposals: The importance of strengthening higher education to cope with crises: The case of COVID-19
- Youth proposals: The impact of COVID-19 on higher education in Albania
- Challenges of digital transformation in Albania: Closing service counters
- Let’s turn our eyes from the railway! Revitalization of the Shkodër-Durrës-Vlorë Railway Corridor as a forgotten part of the industrial heritage “1 Day 3 Stops”
- Contribution of Youth and Diaspora to stop Brain Drain
In addition to the involvement of universities and students, the third edition of the University Debate Laboratory received support from actors in the public and private sectors. Through the financial support of the National Youth Agency, SCiDEV expanded the group of young people benefiting from the “From Words to Action” Campaign, creating the right conditions for 15 young people from Tirana, Korça, and Shkodra to implement in the #riniaktive campaign, the knowledge gained through the debate program, on activism, research, and advocacy. Meanwhile, Atom Computers and Tech360 Solution offered symbolic prizes to the debating finalist teams as a reward for the continuous commitment and performance achieved in the program.
To promote the positive message of student participation in the University Debate Laboratory and to encourage more youth engagement on issues of public interest, SCiDEV has held an ongoing communication campaign through digital platforms creatively and sustainably. In addition to messages for young people and other important actors in the country’s public life, the participating students also shared their experiences during the program. To learn more about the experiences of young people, part of the University Debate Laboratory and the “From Words to Actions” Campaign, watch the following videos:
University Debate Laboratory
- Debaters’ experiences in the semi-finals of the third edition
- The experiences of the finalists of the third edition of the University Debate
“From Words to Action” Campaign
In the newest edition of the University Debate Laboratory – From Words to Action, 12 Universities from Tirana, Shkodra, Durrës, Korça, and Vlora will be involved, and 120 students will be trained and engaged in debate. The participating students will also be invited to apply for the “From Words to Action” Campaign.
In this fourth edition, the first Youth Debate Forum will take place, with the support of the Open Society Foundation for Albania and the participation of young high school debaters, part of the ReDebate program implemented by Liburnetik, and student debaters, part of the University Debate Laboratory – From Words to Action program, implemented by SCiDEV. The participants of the National Youth Debate Program on Social and Economic Model for Albania 2021 – 2024 will be invited to apply to participate in this forum, where they will debate with stakeholders from public institutions, political parties, and other actors on models of solutions to various problems in the Albanian education system.
Another novelty foreseen in this edition will be the establishment of the informal Alumni Network of young debaters, which will consist of graduate students, former participants of the three previous editions of the University Debate Laboratory, and the “From Words to Action” campaign. The Alumni Network will serve as a support group for the new participants throughout their experience as debaters and activists in the “From Word to Action” Campaign.