Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Extended Discussion on Topical Debates

General Details:
Topical debates involve pairs of students offering persuasive arguments on each side of an issue from our studies in American government. Debates last up to 8 minutes total, with students speaking in the following order: pro (1’-2’), con (1’-2’), pro (1’-2’), con (1’-2’).

In terms of assessment, debaters are evaluated on the cogency of their arguments, the quality of their research, and the clarity of their presentations—not on whether their side “wins” in class. Our goal is to identify as many arguments and positions as possible with respect to the topic at hand.

After the debaters speak, our discussion in class follows a regular pattern: 1) students conduct an initial, preliminary vote: pro or con; 2) students discuss: "Why did you vote the way you did?" 3) debaters follow-up with a rebuttal period to address classmates' comments: "Is there anything you wish you had said... but didn't?" 4) students add: "Are there any ideas that you wish you had heard from debaters... but didn't?" 5) debaters offer their last words - "In conclusion, vote for the (PRO/CON) because..." and finally, 6) students conduct a final vote: pro or con.

The purpose of this space is to enable and encourage students to take our topical debates online: follow the links below to read debate summaries and then use comment sections to extend and deepen the discussion.

Here are the topics and resolutions for this round of debates:

Topic #1 - "Party Politics"
RESOLVED: The policies of the (Democratic / Republican) Party more closely match the values of the American people.

Topic #2 - "American democracy is unthinkable without political parties."
RESOLVED: Political parties enhance the democratic process.

Topic #3 - "Proposition 8 = Judicial Tyranny?"
RESOLVED: Judges should not have overturned the will of the voters regarding gay marriage in California.

Topic #4 - "An opening for a third party?"
RESOLVED: The United States needs a third political party.

Topic #5 - "The GOP nomination contest"
RESOLVED: Mitt Romney will be the Republican Party's nominee for President of the United States.

Topic #6 - "Komen v Planned Parenthood"
RESOLVED: The Komen Foundation's decision to withhold funds from Planned Parenthood is reasonable.

Topic #7 - "The GM Bailout"
RESOLVED: The government bailout of General Motors was fair and appropriate.


Lauren Edmond said...

Regarding Topic #6, Komen's Foundation's decision was not reasonable due to the fact that their was no evidence nor ever has been any evidence that Planned Parenthood has used federal money for abortions. Also Komen's funds to Planned Parenthood halp provide on average 750,000 breast exams a year, several to underprivleged women who would not be able to recieve these breast exams without those funds from Komen.

Lauren Edmond said...

Regarding Topic #5 Mitt Romney may not be the Republican candidate for the President due to his recent loss of serveal primaries/caucases. Also he has lost popularity in several of these states with popularity for Santorum on the rise.

Lauren Edmond said...

Regarding Topic# 3 the judges should have overturned the will of the voters because their decision was based in the consitution which is the ultimate land of the law. However judges cannot simply the will of the voters when the majority demads such an opinion. The aboslute determination of this topic will have to go to the supreme court to be decided and cannot be decided by any court with less authority.