William & Mary

Professors gear up for Raft Debate

  • Steinberg's props
    Steinberg's props  Debbie Steinberg, a professor of biological sciences at VIMS, used a variety of props as she defended the discipline of science during last year's Raft Debate.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Von Baeyer as judge
    Von Baeyer as judge  Hans Von Baeyer, chancellor professor emeritus of physics, donned a wig as the judge for last year's debate.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • 2008 poster
    2008 poster  The 2008 Raft Debate poster includes cartoon versions of the people participating in this year's event. The poster has been created the last five years by Joe Gilley, a graphic design manager in the College's Publication Office.  
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Three William and Mary professors are getting ready to duke it out in a battle of words, wits and cheap tricks all to prove the value of their respective disciplines and earn a one-way ticket off of a deserted island.

The professors will face off during the College's annual Raft Debate, scheduled for Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. in the Sadler Center. The event is free and open to the public, and a reception will follow.

The debate is set on a desert island, where a scientist, a social scientist and a humanist are shipwrecked along with a devil's advocate and a judge. With only one raft on the island, the three scholars each try to prove the worth of their respective disciplines in order to win their way off of the island. Meanwhile, the devil's advocate argues that all three disciplines are equally useless. In years past, participants have used props, costumes and free candy to win the audience's approval. The judge picks a winner based on audience reaction.

This year's Raft Debate participants are: Danielle Dallaire, assistant professor of psychology; Mark Forsyth, associate professor of biology; and Steve Holliday, associate professor of theatre, speech, and dance. The devil's advocate will be played by Laura A. Heymann, assistant professor of law. The judge will be played by Laurie Sanderson, dean of Graduate Studies and Research, Arts & Sciences.

Joe Gilley, a graphic design manager in the College's Publication Office, designed this year's raft debate poster, using cartoon figures to portray each of the participants and their research interests. This is the fifth year that Gilley has designed the poster for the debate.

"It's always fun to create this poster," said Gilley. "These cartoon critters are just my style."

The debate participants will each receive a framed copy of the poster to remember the day they were stuck on a desert island together.

The Raft Debate is sponsored by the Office of Graduate Studies and Research, the Graduate Center, and the A&S Graduate Student Association.