Slovak National Team Students Crowned Champion of International Public Policy Forum Debate Contest
May 1, 2021 – A team of students from the Slovak National Team of Bratislava, Slovakia, bested a field of high schools from around the globe Saturday, May 1, winning the 20th Annual Brewer Foundation/New York University International Public Policy Forum (IPPF) debate competition. As the IPPF World Champion, the Slovak National Team won a $10,000 grand prize.
The IPPF is a one-of-a-kind academic collaboration between a law firm’s charitable foundation and a major university. Founded in 2001 by the Brewer Foundation, and now jointly administered by NYU, the IPPF is the only competition that gives high school students around the world the opportunity to engage in written and oral debates on issues of public policy. The IPPF Finals took place virtually in 2021 for the first time in the competition’s history due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure the safety and well-being of IPPF competitors. The teams that competed at the IPPF Finals on May 1 were the final “Elite Eight” teams to emerge from a field of 180 teams, representing high schools in 19 countries and 25 U.S. states. The teams debated the topic: “Resolved: The benefits of artificial intelligence outweigh the harms.” As the new IPPF World Champion, the Slovak National Team receives a $10,000 grand prize – $5,000 for the school’s debate program and $5,000 in individual scholarships. The team was coached by Timofej Kožuchov and Samuel Nvota, and the team members were Martin Janco, Soňa Koniarová, Ema Križanová, Anfisa Kryvtsun, Natália Michalcová, Tereza Okálová, Ina Opartyová, Timotej Oršula, and Mário Valek. "Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, these students participated in the IPPF and prevailed – attaining the title of IPPF World Champion," said William A. Brewer III, partner at Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors and founder of the IPPF. "They impressed the judges with their research, writing and advocacy skills as they dealt with the issue of artificial intelligence. We are proud to celebrate the Slovak National Team and the thousands of students who took part in the IPPF’s 20th annual competition.” In the virtual finals, the Slovak National Team advanced over Peak to Peak Charter School from Lafayette, Colorado, in the quarterfinal round and Potomac Oak from Rockville, Maryland, in the semifinal round, before facing Montgomery Blair High School from Silver Spring, Maryland, in the IPPF Finals. The runner-up team, Montgomery Blair High School of Silver Spring, Maryland, receives a $3,500 prize. Coached by Leigh Tinsley, the team members were Jonathan Wen, Alex Jiang, and Shariar Vaez-Ghaemi. The top eight teams competing in the IPPF Finals represented schools in five U.S. states, Slovakia and Mongolia. The IPPF Finals gave students the opportunity to participate in oral debates in front of some of the world’s foremost experts in debate, business, law and politics. The final debate was judged virtually by a panel comprised of NYU President Emeritus Dr. John Sexton, Notre Dame High School Director of Debate Christina Phillips, and Julian Michael, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Washington who conducts artificial intelligence research. The 2020-21 competition began in October 2020, as teams submitted qualifying round essays on the topic. Judges selected the “Round of 64” teams, who then participated in a single-elimination, written debate contest ― volleying essays back and forth via e-mail. From November to March, the field was narrowed from 64 teams to 32, then 16, and finally to the eight teams that competed in oral debates at the virtual IPPF Finals. The semifinalist teams — The Hockaday School from Dallas, Texas, and Potomac Oak from Rockville, Maryland — each win $1,500. The quarterfinalists were Hobby School of Ulaanbaatar from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; Ivy Bridge Academy from Johns Creek, Georgia; Peak to Peak Charter School from Lafayette, Colorado; and Troy High School from Troy, Michigan. Each of these teams win $750.