Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences Dedman College Research Faculty News

Professor Voth Wins Top National Book Award— Rohrer Award

Dedman College News
Origingally Posted: November 29, 2021

Dr. Voth with his book at the National Communication Association in Seattle Washington November 20, 2021.

Dr. Ben Voth, professor of rhetoric and director of debate and speech was honored with a national book award for his recent book entitled: Debate as Global Pedagogy: Rwanda Rising. The National Communication Association and the American Forensics Association met in Seattle, Washington November 18-21. At the national business meeting for the American Forensics Association, President Kelly Young announced that professor Voth won the Daniel Rohrer award for top academic monograph in the field. He noted that the field of competing submissions for this year’s award was much larger than previous years. The AFA is an organization of professors dedicated to the teaching and coaching of speech and debate activity.

The AFA provides this description of the Daniel Rohrer Memorial Outstanding Research Award on their website:

“Among the most important activities of the American Forensic Association is recognizing achievement and quality in commitment to argumentation and public advocacy. Daniel Morgan Rohrer was Director of Forensics at Boston College from 1970 to 1982. His work with Alan J. Lichtman shaped intercollegiate debate in important ways in the 1980s and 1990s. He died an untimely death in June 1982 at the age of 40. Each year the American Forensic Association recognizes the outstanding monograph in the research concerns of the Association with the Dan Rohrer Memorial Award.”

Professor Voth’s book, Debate as Global Pedagogy: Rwanda Rising, was published as part of the Lexington Book series edited by esteemed political communication scholar Dr. Robert Denton as part of the Rowman and Littlefield academic publishing company.This is one of the top academic presses in the area of political communication. Voth’s book has as its thesis that debate can be used to teach individuals to maximize their own individual voices and build a critical thinking bulwark against propaganda’s communication role in perpetuating genocide. The book was inspired by and explains details of his work in Rwanda during the 25th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsis.  In December of 2019, professor Voth spent three weeks in Rwanda training 35 teachers and more than 300 high school students how to do debate. The project was sponsored by the US State Department in Rwanda. The book compiles a range of debate teaching programs around that world that promote a theoretical concept known as discursive complexity. Some of the projects described in the book include: the new Historically Black Colleges and Universities National Debate Championship, Debate across the curriculum at Wiley College, the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation National High School Debate Championship, the George W. Bush Dallas Urban Debate Championship of 2012, training of Rwandan police forces with SMU’s conflict resolution program led by Betty Gilmore, debate programs in China, conflict resolution in Latin America, and the history of debate training in the American Civil Rights Movement among leaders such as Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers, James Farmer Jr., and James Meredith.