Student Debate Series

Thursday, February 17, 2022

The Council has concluded the October Student Debate Series program. Thank you to all participating students, and congratulations to the winning team, Team Affirmative! 

Check back on this page in the coming weeks to register your students for the February Student Debate Series program. Contact Kasey Trapp, Associate Director of Student Programs, at or 215-561-4700 ext. 207 for any questions.

Borrowing off both the success of the Council’s 2020-2021 student debate series, and the Council’s Great Debates legacy podium speaker series, we are happy to announce that we will once again, offer our Student Debate Series for member high schools.

In response to a timely debate prompt, students will be divided and assigned to one of two groups (affirmative or opposed) and hone their research, writing, strategic thinking, and public speaking skills in the form of a structured, formal 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.

The October Debate Program, titled Twenty Years Later: The United States’ Obligation to Democracy in Afghanistan and Around the World, positioned students on either side of one of today’s most pressing issues and contested topics in U.S. foreign policy. Through pre-program independent research and a formal debate structure, students gained a nuanced understanding of the history of the United States’ involvement in Afghanistan, and the larger questions surrounding the United States’ role in promoting democracy around the world. After participating in this program, students have gained the ability to critically examine the shifting military, economic, and political incentives that have brought into question the United States' role as nation-builder and global driver of democratization. 

If you have any questions about this program, please reach out to Kasey Trapp, Associate Director of Student Programs, at or 215-561-4700 ext. 207.

About this Program: 
* Format:
 In-person program (held at the Council's office) with additional dates and a move to virtual programming if needed; 
Duration: 2 hours;
Program Offerings: 2 debates scheduled for 2021-2022 academic year - October and February;
* 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 Student Debate Prep and Resource Guide

Included in this guide are Questions to Consider, space to craft a Draft Opening Statement, and a list of pre-vetted resources and information critical to the program topic that participating students should use as the basis for their research and preparation.