People Dibattito

The Finest Orators Are From Bocconi

, by Davide Ripamonti
Four Bocconi students won a debate tournament, organized by the University of Padua, that started with representatives of 12 universities and concluded with the defeat of the University of Bologna

The team from Bocconi University – comprised of Edoardo Antignani (Integrated Master of Arts in Law), Silvia Canova (Bachelor of Science in Economics and Management in Arts, Culture and Communication), Marina Ilieva (Integrated Master of Arts in Law) and Andrea Modonesi (Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Management) – won the 4th Interuniversity DiCo Debate Tournament and defeated the University of Bologna in the final. The tournament was held at the Municipality of Padua and involved 12 Italian universities. Four young people who did not know each other previously, with nothing in common, except for the fact that they attended the same university and signed up for the Bocconi Students Debate Club. "It all came about somewhat by accident," says the group, "but then, once we decided to participate in the competition, we took the experience very seriously." It could not have gone any other way, given their passion for debate – with not only a still distant career in mind, but also as a tool to improve oneself and one’s ability to articulate their thoughts. "We competed in a total of five debates," explains Marina Ilieva, "two in the qualifying round, then in the quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals. Obviously, there were always different topics leading to the final, when the topic to be discussed was whether it was right to make a financial profit by doing charity work. We ended up drawing the 'pro' position." The debate is a formula where the ability to articulate one's thoughts is important, but equally crucial is the skill of "using the argument of the person who just spoke, which – let's assume – could be testimony in a trial, and then proving the truth of your perspective by using the other team's counter-argument,” as explained by Edoardo Antignani. Edoardo, in addition to winning the team prize, was also individually awarded best speaker of the tournament. Yet, while some of the opposing teams had already participated in the previous edition of the tournament, for the Bocconi students it was the first time ever with this format. "Some students also participated in the debate tournament held by Bocconi for high schools, called World School Debate, which was organized in a different manner," says Silvia Canova. "On this occasion, however, we tried our hand at a new format – called 'Back-and-forth' – that only Edoardo had previously participated in. The hardest part was coordinating our studies with seeing each other, getting lessons and exams to fit in our schedules, especially since some of us are commuters. It is a competition that requires a lot of preparation because the topics are always different and you have to know them well." However, that is not enough. The preparation must be thorough; the research of arguments really sweeps across every field of human knowledge, as Andrea Modonesi explains: "We try, as far as the debate is concerned, to rely on arguments that have some kind of philosophical basis. Therefore, several times we have had to go and see if there have been authors or otherwise important people who have said phrases, sayings or thoughts about it. So it depends very much, and above all, on prior experience." It is a useful exercise and lesson for the future, whichever paths the students will take. As Edoardo states, "It was important to be able to move away from what our technical skills were, and understand the more general picture – in the sense of not only looking at the technical quibble on an economic or legal level, but also understanding whether perhaps this thing is morally acceptable or not."