Debate Series

Introducing the 2020-2021 World Affairs Council of Philadelphia Debate Series!

Student Debate Series (NEW for 2020-21Borrowing off both the success of the Council’s first ever virtual Summer Global Leadership Seminar for high school students and the Council’s Great Debates legacy podium speaker series, we will be offering a new virtual debate series for member high schools students. In response to a timely debate prompt, students will be divided and assigned to one of two groups (affirmative or negative) and will hone their research, writing, strategic thinking, and public speaking skills in the form of a virtual debate with their peers.  The Council will provide accompanying topic and group-specific resources for students to review prior to the virtual debate.  A panel of judges will utilize a detailed rubric to choose a winning side and students will have the opportunity to earn individual awards based on their debate participation and performance.

* Platforms Offered: Zoom or Google Meet;
Duration: 2 hours;
Program Offerings: 3 debates in 2020-2021 academic year - October, February, April; 
* Preparation level: Medium, students should anticipate reading a short set of pre-vetted resources from the perspective of their assigned debate group prior to participating in the virtual debate

October Debate

Wendesday, October 14th, 2020 from 3:30 - 5:00 p.m. Other dates will be made available in response to high demand.

The first debate will center on isolationist vs. internationalist tendencies due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Students will be assigned to either of debate teams, and will partner with students from other schools to develop coherent arguments based on comprehensive research and study. Multiple students will be asked to speak during the program, however, a speaking role is not mandatory for participation in this program. 

Debate Prompt:
Given the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic, should the United States primarily focus on taking an isolationist approach and combating the virus at home, or should the United States take an internationalist approach and coordinate with allies and international organizations to fight the spread of COVID-19? 

In response to the debate prompt, students will be divided and assigned to one of two teams. In preparation for the debate, students should take note of their assigned team and read through the general background resources, as well as all team-specific resources. Students are encouraged to take notes on the resources provided and may do additional research if they choose in order to help strengthen their arguments during the debate. 

Group 1: Affirmative Group
“Based on our studies and research, YES, the United States should take an isolationist approach and focus on combating the virus at home.” 

Group 2: Opposing Group
“Based on our studies and research, NO, the United States should NOT take an isolationist approach, but should adopt an internationalist approach and coordinate with allies and international organizations to fight the spread of COVID-19.”

Registration for this program is now open!