Quarter 3 Unit 3: DEBATE
Time limits for Lincoln-Douglas debate are:
1st Affirmative constructive – 4 minutes
Cross Examination – 2 minutes
1st Negative constructive – 5 minutes
Cross Examination – 2 minutes
1st Affirmative rebuttal – 4 minutes
Negative rebuttal – 4 minutes
2nd Affirmative rebuttal – 3 minutes
Prep time: 2 minutes
In order to be accepted for consideration, the topic area must be in the form of a 1-2 page brief
1. A statement of the significance of the topic area in current events;
2. A statement of why the topic is interesting, challenging, and/or provocative;
3. A statement of the perceived educational value of the topic area for debaters;
4. A brief bibliography of selected readings (5-10) that capture the nature of the controversy
surrounding the area
5. Make sure to frame your debate topic in a meaningful manner. Here are some examples:
The United States Federal Government should substantially change its military capability
in regards to the People’s Republic of China.
The United States Federal Government should take action to protect U.S. legal rights in
regards to the People’s Republic of China.
The United States Federal Government should significantly change its trade policy and/or
practices with the People’s Republic of China.
The United States Federal Government should substantially increase its engagement with
the People’s Republic of China in one or more of the following areas: energy,
The United States Federal Government should substantially increase its economic
engagement with the People’s Republic of China.
Topic Paper: The United States and International Free Trade
The following papers meet the very basic minimum requirements. I included them to give you basic
examples. In your final draft I expect it to be a little longer (with more quotations and evidence).
A statement of the significance of the topic area in current events:
As democracies have spread and the frequency and duration of major interstate conflicts has largely
declined over the past half-century, military affairs have increasingly taken a back seat to issues affecting
economic prosperity within the international sphere. The Great Recession of late 2000s brought a
relatively recent phenomenon sharply into focus—we no longer live in a world where the effects of
economic expansions and contractions remain localized in scope. Everything we do has consequences
Today, the recovery from the worst economic downturn in eight decades is well underway. But free trade
remains in a state of flux. The recession brought with it the usual political pressures—to seal off ports,
create subsidies, and levy tariffs on foreign goods. Can the world overcome these temptations? Or
perhaps, the devil’s advocate might ask, would we fare better to fall victim to them? Now is clearly the
optimal time to expand the discourse surrounding the United States and international trade.
A statement of why the topic is interesting, challenging, and/or provocative.
Free trade by definition is a question of opportunity costs. There are winners and there losers—enhanced
access to cheaper consumer goods from other countries invariably must come at the expense of layoffs
within the domestic workforce. Economic investment in developing countries tends to create negative
repercussions for the environment. Actions to protect domestic goods may incense trade partners and lead
The beauty of this topic is that it encompasses one of the most controversial issues of our time. Even
when we look beyond policy considerations, we can examine events like the infamous “Battle in Seattle”
WTO protests of 1997 to understand the ramifications trade has on our daily lives. But trade is not just an
issue that determines how much our electronics cost or how much our paycheck grows. It is an issue that
will ultimately shape how the world will function throughout the 21st century.
From a debate standpoint, this topic would be incredibly interesting and demanding. The sheer extent of
the controversy surrounding trade would mean a departure from topics that too often permit shallow,
limited analysis to succeed. It would allow for a multitude of strategies to be deployed—everything from
specific provisions of free trade agreements, internal political consequences, and even “clash of
civilizations” debates would be fair game.
A statement of the perceived educational value of the topic area for debaters:
Given the above, there should be little wonder that the controversies over international trade have
produced a wealth of scholarly literature concerning its benefits and disadvantages for the United States
and the rest of the world at large.
Free trade is a multidisciplinary subject. Rather than demanding a narrow focus on one particular aspect
of policymaking, questions of trade encompass a variety of fields that extend far beyond simple
macroeconomics. A discussion of trade would provide debaters an unparalleled opportunity
Advocacy of the South Korea FTA: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2010/12/KORUS-FTA-A-
Criticism of the South Korea FTA: http://www.examiner.com/geopolitics-in-national/korea-free-trade-
Example of a significant international trade dispute:
Example of U.S. protectionism: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/10/business/global/10solar.html
Example of a U.S. trade subsidy: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/30/end-ethanol-subsidies-
Domestic politics and free trade: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/13/opinion/13lighthizer.html
Names of group members
Topic Paper: Higher Education
Statement of Significance
Higher Education is important for three reasons: higher education plays a key role in the strength and
future development of the US economy, higher education is important to the individual aspirations of
millions of people in the US, and higher education is a crucial institution in terms of how it deals with
important social issues.
This is a topic of personal interest to college debaters because each competitor is a student at a college or
university and the issues that affect higher education impact their own lives. Likewise, coaches also have
a direct interest in these issues. As members of the larger society, the solutions to the issues and
challenges facing higher education will impact all of us.
It has been presumed for decades that a higher education will translate into greater wages throughout life.
This assumption is no longer taken for granted. Has a graduate degree replaced the basic bachelor’s
degree? Is there still value in pursuing professional degrees?
Also, the area of immigration has a direct bearing on higher education. Specific subtopics would include
student visas as well as the DREAM Act.
Higher education has a direct impact on the US economy. Issues such as emphasis on mathematics and
science, the important role of community colleges, and the role of higher education in supporting the
research and development of new technologies are all integral areas of policy discussion.
On the social front, higher education is one of the key nexus of intersection between the role of the
government via public dollars and the lives of students in terms of social issues. Issues such as affirmative
action, ROTC, education of students with disabilities, and the role of sports are all important elements of
this topic area.
Lastly, there are a number of topics that are important within academic circles, but not widely discussed
in public policy arenas, such as: copyright, academic freedom, and the impact of tenure on family life. All
of these issues would be viable areas for case development.
The federal government has a number of direct connections with higher education, so debaters will be
able to craft plans that have real-world likelihood of implementation.
While the number of potential cases that would be debated is large, debaters would be able to deal with
this range of issues due to their familiarity with the topics. This topic would be expansive and yet within
the reach of every school that competes in NFA LD. This would allow for maximum creativity on the part
of students and also reward hard work and research and at the same time be an accessible topic for every
Potential Areas for Debate
A few possible topics:
Resolved: That the USFG should substantially increase its investment in higher education in the US.
Resolved: That the USFG should substantially reform higher education in the US.
The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education
The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems:
American Association of University Professors:
American Association of State Colleges and Universities:
Institute for Higher Education Policy:
Names of group members