Life Raft Debate

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There are only

until the
15th Annual Life Raft Debate!
Thursday, October 11th, 2012
7:00 pm

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 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.

Here's the 2011 panel!

Stephanie Batkie—English  (Defending Champion)
Emily Gill—Costume Design
Kevin Hope--Physics
Gregory L. Reece—Religious Stuies
Stephen Craft--Business

Mark the date so you can come decide who lives and who drowns.

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



What's  New

bullet The Life Raft Debate on This American Life!


Mighty Mouse
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:

This American Life on Facebook

bullet Watch the FREE webcast anytime:

bullet Check out this coverage in the Shelby County Reporter


bullet And the Oar goes to:

And the oar goes to…

Dr. Kevin Hope from Physics!

Maybe it was all the water surrounding the life raft.  Or maybe it’s that I am teaching ancient Greek philosophy this semester where one of the earliest figures declared that “All is water.”  Or maybe it’s all the pain meds.  But whatever the cause, after extensive bios from all concerned, it sure seemed like everyone on the panel last night was in an awfully reductive mood.   First, Kevin Hope (Physics) declared that everything was physics, then returning champion Stephanie Batkie (Medieval Literature), declared that all was Rhetoric, after claiming all her strengths were useless and that statistics were against her.  Next up, Gregory L. Reece (Religious Studies) claimed that Religious Studies lay at the base of everything, followed by Emily Gill’s (Costume Design) impassioned defense of the necessity of putting stuff on our heads and then by Stephen Craft’s (Business) assertion that all was business.

And so began the 14th Annual Life Raft Debate, for good and for ill.  Along the way the audience was treated to

  • Emily Gill’s dance performance with a giant, electrified headset that lit up the stage,
  • Stephanie Batkie’s prowess with wireless microphones that proved difficult to operate for people without Ph.D.s in Medieval Literature
  • Stephen Craft’s claim that everything except reproduction was business
  • Kevin Hope’s jibe that if we didn’t take business with us on the life raft to begin with, we wouldn’t have to bail them out later
  • Gregory Reece’s revelation that werewolves were on our side in the grand scheme of things
  • The fact that nerds watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Well, to be fair, maybe we already knew that last one.

Throughout the proceedings, MC Stephen Parker kept everyone but himself under control and made sure that the debate concluded with a minimum of violence as over 600 votes were tallied and Kevin Hope sailed away into the Brave New World leaving the squabbling of the others to slowly gurgle away beneath the pitiless waves. 

And don’t forget, the countdown has already begun for the next debate!

Life Raft Debate Tidbits:

bulletThere has never been a repeat champion
bullet Only Mathematics has won twice
bullet 77% of the Champions have come from the College of Arts and Sciences
bullet8% have come from the College of Fine Arts
bullet 8% have come from the Administration
bullet 8% have been civilians

Of the participants in the 10 previous debates,

bullet 53% have been from the College of Arts and Sciences
bullet 24% have been from the College of Fine Arts
bullet 13% have been from the College of Education
bullet 5% have been from the Michael E. Stephens College of Business
bullet 3% have been from Administration

2% have been “civilians.”

bullet 2% have been recent 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 2011 Stephanie Batkie--Medieval :iterature

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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Last updated: 10/13/07.