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Young People Enter Public Debate with Debate Training 

On a Tuesday night in the beginning of February, a group of 20 young people met to participate in a new debate training program.

Simon Nymann Berggren og David Rejkjær Knudsen. Foto: privat 

The training program is a new collaboration between the Christian Daily newspaper and the Council on International Relations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark, and with the help of donations from the Christian foundation Samfonden. The goal with the program is to teach the participants about public debates and how to properly navigate and participate in them, especially regarding topics such as the spirit of the time, gender, foreigner, religion, and society.


Through the program, the students will learn to debate and argue both orally and tjhrough the written word. As a conclusion to the program, the students will participate as debaters at the People’s Meeting (Folkemødet) 2022 which is often said to be Denmark’s democracy festival.

We have spoken with David Rejkjær Knudsen and Simon Nymann Berggren, whom are both studying theology on their 6. Semester at Copenhagen University, and they are both participants in the debate program.


What are your thoughts on the debate training program? 

David Rejkjær Knudsen: “Debating training is an interesting initiative, since it makes sure to equip its students for the public debate. It has given me the strength to reflect on different social problems.”


Simon Nymann Berggren:” I really like the debating training. Even though it’s a pilot project, it has been working out well. The theme “what shapes us?” is an exciting starting point in the public debate.”


What learning points are you taking with you from the program? 

David Rejkjær Knudsen: “I have learned about the different political positions of the left and the right wing. We have a community with the other participants, where we all have different opinions, but we unite in our shared hopes of a meaningful and useful democratic debate.


Simon Nymann Berggren: I am learning a lot of stuff. I am learning how communicate properly both in writing and orally, which are fundamental skills when debating, and I'm learning which specific contents or arguments and contextual implications that are influencing the public debate.


Given your position as a theology student, what do you think your specific contribution to the public debate could be?

David Rejkjær Knudsen: “The study of theology has helped me to understand the philosophical background and reasoning of debating as well as what it means to be part of a larger society. Our society is on many levels built on the Christian heritage, and therefore it is important to be aware of this in a debate”


Simon Nymann Berggren: “I think that theology has more at play than first assumed. For me, questions regarding intellectual liberty and the societal role of Christianity are part of our social debate.”