The Northwest Nazarene forensics (speech and debate) team is your opportunity to hone your competitive speaking and performance skills. Previous speech and debate experience is not required to be a part of the team. The goal of this program is educational: opportunities are provided for you to become a more effective communicator.

What is forensics? Like an athletic team, we practice and compete with other colleges around the region and around the country in tournaments. Like golf, tennis, or track, each member of the team competes individually in their own events, adding to the team score.

Forensics events cover a lot of varied ground: giving an interpretive reading of a piece of literature, orally delivering a prose piece you've written, making an impromptu speech, taking part in a formal debate (similar to a courtroom), and more. You, with your coach, choose the event or events in which you'll participate.

This page will link you to information on how to join the team, the areas we compete in, the scholarships we offer and the successes we've achieved at regional and national tournaments.

But if you'd like more information immediately, email coach and professor Brooke Adamson at


COMM 2120/3120 (Communication Activities) is an opportunity for you to earn academic credit as you prepare for and participate in the performance of intercollegiate speaking and debate.

This one-credit course is designed to offer credit for the work and time you put into Competitive Forensics. It's offered both fall and spring.

  1. Attendance is required unless prior arrangements are made with Mrs. Adamson at the beginning of the semester. Example: if you have a class conflict with our class time, one hour a week can be made up independently. You must make up time missed even if you are sick.
  2. Coaching Time is required. You MUST practice with a coach two times for each event per tournament.
  3. Research will be necessary. You will spend time finding scripts, doing character sketches, and or writing speeches for competition. Each requirement here is dependent on type of event(s) you choose.
  4. Weekly Goal Setting will be done in preparation for tournaments (coaches can advise). Team Study in current events is necessary to keep up with "the outside." Discussion and updating extemporaneous files will be required of extemporaneous speakers.
  5. Three Events are required for competition by the second tournament. You must participate in at least one prepared event.
  6. Two Tournaments. You are required to attend two tournaments per semester unless Mrs. Adamson makes special arrangements to allow you to fulfill this obligation through other means.

FLYING TO TOURNAMENTS: Tournaments we fly to have limited space and not everyone will be able to make the trip. Criteria for attending these tournaments are quality of material, attitude, listening to coaches, and making necessary changes to speeches, grades, and practice time invested. Seniority may also be a determining factor.

But if you qualify, we pay all the expenses for the trip -- there are no fees or charges for being on the forensics team!


You don't need prior competitive experience and you don't have to be a Communications major to join the team. All students are welcome to come and check out forensics during our regular class time, Tuesdays at 3:10. If you can't make it to class, please feel free to contact Coach Adamson at

Students need to maintain a 2.5 cumulative GPA in order to participate in forensics. Scholarships may be available, so please contact a coach for further information.

Never been on a forensics team? There are many types of events in which students can participate -- not just debate -- so come to a meeting and find out what's possible. Students are encouraged to choose their events and seek out the themes and material(s) that fit them best.


Like most sports, some scholarships are available to students who compete on the Forensics team. These scholarships are over and above the general academic scholarship you receive when you're accepted to NNU.

Please ask the coaches about the availability of these awards.


NNU has a long and proud tradition of students participating in a designated debate or forensic club, dating back to 1925 when it was known as Northwest Nazarene College. The Beta Sigma Theta Forensic Society and the Academy Debating Society boasted mottos of "Be a Salesman of Thought" and "Clear convincing Speech."

The words spoken by the members of these clubs are still hauntingly true even today:

"The world, because of modern means of transportation and communication, has become so small that it may be truly said, 'No man liveth unto himself.' We must constantly be associated with our speech is our most practical "meeting ground" we should be careful of its development,"
James W. Shaver, '25.

In 1934, the heading of the Nazarene Messenger (a publication for the means of communicating with constituents, alumni and other friends of the university that is still published today) read, "Nampa Debate Team Defeats Stanford U." A similar article was published in the local newspaper, the Daily Nampa Leader-Hearld. The topic of debte at this noteworthy historical event was "Resolved:That the Powers of the President of the United States Should be Substantially Increased as a Settled Policy."

Significant social and political issues of the day continued to be the topic of debate such as the question presented at a state competition as recorded in The Idaho Daily Statesman, "Resolved: That the nations of the western hemisphere should form a permant union." NNC student Hugh McDowell won a spot in the Extemporaneous Finals and went on to win second place at that state competition and added to the successes of an already well-decorated team.

The success of the team continued into the 1960's. The local paper noted that the NNC debaters won 12 out of 24 debates in their first experience this year at the Lower Division Forensic Tournament held at Columbia Basin College in Pasco, Washington under the direction of Coach Earl Owens. In speaking events at the same tournament, Lehman Mosely took second in extemporaneous speaking and Gaymon Bennett (who later became a beloved professor at NNU) took second in after-dinner speaking. In 1962, Coach Earl Owens accepted a sweepstakes trophy on behalf of his team.

Pi Kappa Delta


  • Responsible for presiding over PKD/Forensics meetings [not classes].
  • Assists Coaches in various public relations programs [initiation and development].
  • Assists with "newsletter" for information gathering, article development, etc.


  • Responsible for presiding over PKD/Forensics meetings upon the absence of the President.
  • Responsible for the design and information gathering associated with the "newsletter."
  • Assists President and Coaches in public relations programs.
  • Responsible for contact with CRUSADER editor concerning tournament results and article development [Get DOF or ADOF approval before sending articles].


  • Responsible for taking and distributing notes from ALL PKD meetings.
  • Assists Vice-President with the "newsletter" development; plus mailing process.
  • Assists Coaches in developing tournament "bulletins," messages, etc.


  • Responsible for maintaining the history of the Forensics Team for the year, including picture taking, souvenir collection, storybook, etc.
  • Responsible for contacting the OASIS editor for yearbook picture.
  • Responsible to help maintain and develop the trophy case.
  • Assists the Secretary-Treasurer by taking notes at the meetings when the Secretary-Treasurer is absent.

All Officers

  • Responsible to the PKD Sponsor for the developments of the PKD Chapter.
  • Serve as PKD Board Member with the PKD Sponsor and Coaches for idea development, issue resolution, etc.
  • Work at table/booth at NNU and community functions.
  • Assist Coaches by meeting with potential forensics students; appointments, letter writing, etc.
  • Assist in organization of a yearly Forensics Showcase Night.
  • Assist in NNU sponsored Tournaments; high school and college.
  • Assist in developing, organizing, and participating in Fund-raising events.

Other Considerations

  • Positive attitude.
  • Good representative of Christ, NNU, and our Forensics Team.
  • Is consistent on practices and Forensics Participation.
  • Mentor to new team members.


Parliamentary Debate

  1. Time limits: 7-8-8-8-4-5 with 20 minutes to prepare (including time needed to walk to the round).
  2. Topics will be centrally announced and they will vary per round.
  3. Students may use print resources during their preparation time. However, these materials may not be taken into the debating chamber. Debaters may not use electronic sources of information retrieval.
  4. Round-to-round results will not be posted during the tournament.
  5. Judges may provide feedback to students after ballots have been submitted, but judges should not reveal decisions.
  6. Three person debate teams are not permitted.
  7. In other areas relevant to the debate, NPDA guidelines will be followed.
  8. Novice, Junior, and Open divisions.

Individual Events

  • All events have a time limit of ten minutes maximum unless otherwise noted.
  • Materials must not have been used in competition by the competitor prior to Sept. 1 of the competition year.
  • A contestant may not use the same cutting/content or any portion of that cutting/content in more than one prepared event at this tournament.


  1. Students will have 30 minutes to prepare, with the aid of any research materials but not the aid of colleagues or coaches, a speech that is the original work of the student.
  2. The contestant will select one of three topics. Topics will be chosen from current events. Some tournaments ask students to craft a relevant current events question from one of two political cartoons.
  3. Maximum time limit for the speech is seven minutes.
  4. Note cards may be used.


  1. The program may consist of single or multiple selections around a central theme. Plays are not permitted.
  2. Introductions and transitions are included in the time limit.
  3. Manuscripts are to be used.


  1. The speech must be original and the product of the contestant's own thinking.
  2. The purpose is to inform the audience about some worthwhile subject.
  3. Research should be involved. The speech should not be a personal experience or the retelling of a movie plot, etc.
  4. Audio/visual aids are permitted.
  5. Although the speech should be memorized, competitors may use note cards. If note cards are used, rank and/or rate may be lowered at the judge's discretion.

After Dinner

  1. An original speech to entertain with the purpose of making a serious point through the use of humor.
  2. The speech should be organized around a central theme and should not be a string of jokes.
  3. Although the speech should be memorized, competitors may use note cards. If note cards are used, rank and/or rate may be lowered at the judge's discretion.

Communication Analysis or Rhetorical Criticism

  1. An original speech designed to offer an explanation and/or evaluation of a communication event through the use of rhetorical principles.
  2. Events may include: speech, speaker, movement, poem, poster, film, campaign, etc.
  3. Audio/visual aids may be used to supplement and reinforce the message.
  4. Although the speech should be memorized, competitors may use note cards. If note cards are used, rank and/or rate may be lowered at the judge's discretion.

Program Oral Interpretation (POI)

  1. A program of thematically-linked selections.
  2. Selections must be chosen from at least two of the three recognized genres (prose/poetry/drama).
  3. A substantial portion of the total time must be devoted the chosen genres.
  4. Introductions and transitions are included in the time limit.
  5. Manuscripts are to be used.


  1. The speech must be original and the product of the contestant's own thinking.
  2. The speech should inspire, reinforce, or change beliefs, attitudes, values, or actions of the audience. Research should be involved.
  3. Audio/visual aids are permitted.
  4. Although the speech should be memorized, competitors may use note cards. If note cards are used, rank and/or rate may be lowered at the judge's discretion.


  1. The program may consist of single or multiple selections around a central theme.
  2. Plays are not permitted.
  3. Introduction and transitions are included in the time limit.
  4. Manuscripts are to be used.


  1. Contestants will choose one topic from a choice of three, some tournaments will give each speaker the same topic which may be proverbs, great quotations or even bumper stickers.
  2. Speakers will have a total of 7 minutes for both preparation and speaking.
  3. Note cards may be used.


  1. A cutting from a play involving the portrayal of two or more characters by two individuals. May be humorous or serious.
  2. This is not an acting event--no costumes, props, lighting, etc., are to be used.
  3. The presentation is from a manuscript.
  4. The focus should be off-stage, not to each other.
  5. The time limit includes an original introduction.

Dramatic Interpretation

  1. A cutting which represents one or more characters.
  2. The play should be of literary merit.
  3. The material may be drawn from stage, screen, or radio.
  4. The introduction is included in the time limit.
  5. Manuscripts are to be used.