Speech, Debate & Mock Trial

Forensics, from the Latin forensis meaning 'in open court, public' and closely related to the term forum, is the practice of argumentation and public speaking. At the University of Oregon, the Forensics program encompasses individual and team speech and debate events, as well as the rapidly growing Mock Trial program. 

The team is as old as the university itself. Founded in 1876, ticket sales to debates helped fund a struggling young football program. One of the very first intercollegiate debates in America occurred in 1891 between University of Oregon and Willamette University. Forensics is in our DNA, and today the team has more than 50 members and travels to around 20 events each year.

Calling All UO Students!

All University of Oregon undergraduate students can join the program regardless of level of experience. Joining Oregon Forensics will place you squarely into a network that includes prominent individuals in politics, business, law, entertainment, and academia. We compete with nearly every school in the nation in at least one forensics event each year, including: UC Berkeley, Whitman College, University of Washington, Harvard, UCLA, Dartmouth, Georgetown and many more of the nation’s top schools. We have won five national championships in Speech and Debate, and our newly minted Mock Trial team was a major upset at nationals in 2016, their first time attending national competition.

Learn more about how to get involved by reaching out to Trond Jacobsen at trond@uoregon.edu.



Niharika Sachdeva

"One of my most valuable experiences in the honors college has been joining the Mock Trial team. Coming in as a freshman, I was scared to make friends and did not know where to start. Joining the UO Mock Trial team turned my freshman year around.

So far, being part of the competitive team has defined my college experience. UO Mock Trial has taught me more about the legal field, provided me with networking opportunities, and allowed me to create life-long friendships."


Support Oregon Forensics

As an extracurricular, Forensics aims to provide students with a forum and a framework to apply that which they have been learning in the classroom. Research skills, critical thinking, logic and empathy come together in applied practice, providing students the opportunity to cultivate and hone those skills that will serve them both personally and professionally throughout their lives. Alumni and community members can play a critical role in helping us extend these opportunities to qualified and deserving students by investing in scholarships and program infrastructure. With your support, Oregon Forensics can provide students with the experience of a lifetime.

Invest in Oregon Forensics

Volunteer as a Judge

Oregon Forensics frequently hires qualified persons as independent contractors to judge forensics events. Judges hired as contractors are not employees of the University of Oregon and are not affiliated directly with the Oregon Forensics program. If you are interested in volunteering, contact Alyson Escalante at aescalante@uoregon.edu and we will follow up with you to create a Personal Services Contract.

Meet the Director

Trond Jacobsen

Trond Jacobsen - Director of Forensics and Instructor of Information Science

Dr. Jacobsen competed in debate while a student at the University of Oregon. In six years of high school and college debate Jacobsen failed to break only twice, and broke at all four nationals he attended, including twice in quarterfinals. He won the Northwest CEDA Championship his junior year earning 177 out of 180 possible speaker points. His senior year he finished 3rd and was 2nd speaker at the elite Jesuit Round Robin. While competing for Oregon, Jacobsen earned more than two dozen 1st speaker awards.

As a debate instructor, Jacobsen helped lead strong teams to national success at Cornell, Vermont, and Alaska. Since arriving at Oregon in 2013, his teams include the top seed after preliminary rounds and the Top Speaker at the 2014 NPTE. The program was 4th in sweepstakes at the 2015 NPDA nationals and one team was 3rd place at the 2015 NPTE national championship tournament.

Visit Dr. Jacobsen's Faculty Profile »​