Public Debates

Upcoming Events

 

 Check back soon for more upcoming events!

 

Past Events

Education Debate at the Gerald R. Ford Museum - October 2017

Ezra Serrins (JMC freshman), Evan Jones (biosystems engineering freshman) and Tyler Thur (MPP graduate assistant) debated about education policy with students from Wayne State and Central Michigan. Carly Watson (Program and Events Coordinator) and Margaret Strong (Assistant Coach) helped to moderate. The debate took place at the Gerald R. Ford museum as part of Debate Day 2017. The discussion topic covered whether reform for education should occur at the federal or state level and whether there should be an enshrined "right to education."

Debate Day - October 2017

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and Foundation hosted the annual Debate Day this year for students, coaches and teachers accross west Michigan. Students were able to attend lectures given by MSU Debate students and watch public debates about the high school policy debate topic for the year. Debate Day is the product of collaboration between MSU Debate, Wayne State Debate, Kent ISD, Michigan Center for Civic Education and Kentwood Public Schools.

Surveillance Public Debate - September 2017 

As the Honors College celebrates its 60th Anniversary, they have made a point to include lifelong learning opportunities in their celebrations.  

On Monday, September 11, 2017 the MSU Debate Team hosted a public debate on whether or not the United States should cease bulk data collection. Constitutional privacy concerns, global backlash to U.S. surveillance policies, and counter-terrorism efforts were debated under this umbrella theme. A public Q&A was included

National Championship Qualifying Tournament - February 2017

The Michigan State University debate team will host and participate in the National Debate Tournament District 5 Qualifier. MSU will host teams from universities throughout Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, including the University of Michigan, Northwestern University, Indiana University, Wayne State University and others. The district tournament determines which teams qualify for the 71st National Debate Tournament, which will be held at the University of Kansas in late March.

GEAR UP - January 2017

MSU Debate Program and Events Coordinator, Carly Watson, and MSU Debate student, Lauren Pepper, lead discussions and facilitated practice debates for the GEAR UP program hosted on campus. The topic for the day was "how to persuade people" so there was instruction how how to make persuasive agruments and then practice debates on school uniforms and cell phones in high schools.

We the People State Finals - January 2017

MSU Debate Program and Events Coordinator, Carly Watson, and MSU Debate student, Jake Wier, helped facilitate the We the People state finals tournament. Students from all over the state participated in questions about current events, constitutional law and the political system.

Spartan Classic 2016 - December 2016

The debate team from HH Dow High School won the 26th annual Spartan Classic Debate Tournament held at Michigan State University. More than 100 students from high schools in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio competed in the tournament.   In the open division, HH Dow's Duncan Donahue and Austin Poon defeated a team from Okemos High School. In the novice division, Glenbrook North's Trevor Gliane and Jeffery Sun won the tournament.

The Immmigration Debate: Open vs. Closed Borders - October 2016

Moderated by Carly Watson, Project and Event Coordinator, MSU Debate Team

Featured participants:

Bryan Caplan

Bryan Caplan is a well-known proponent of “open borders” by the removal of all immigration restrictions. He recently published “A Radical Case for Open Borders” (with Vipul Naik) in The Economics of Immigration, edited by Benjamin Powell. 

Bryan Caplan is Professor of Economics at George Mason University and Senior Scholar at the Mercatus Center. He is the author of The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies, named "the best political book of the year" by the New York Times, and Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent Is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think. He has published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the American Economic Review, the Economic Journal, the Journal of Law and Economics, and Intelligence, and has appeared on 20/20, Fox News, and C-SPAN. He is now working on a new book, The Case Against Education.  Bryan is also a blogger on EconLog.

Stanley Renshon

Mr. Renshon has been a Center for Immigration Studies Fellow since 1999 and an expert in the areas of citizenship, national identity and the psychology of immigration. He has testified before Congress several times on these matters and has assisted government net assessments in these areas.

Mr. Renshon is also a professor of political science, coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Program in the Psychology of Social and Political behavior at the City University of New York Graduate Center and a certified psychoanalyst.

Among his fifteen books are: America’s Second Civil War: Dispatches From the Political Center; One America?: Political Leadership, National Identity, and the Dilemmas of Diversity; The 50% American: Immigration and National Identity in an Age of Terrorism, and Noncitizen Voting and American Democracy.

Sponsored by:

  • The John Templeton Foundation through a gift from the Institute for Humane Studies
  • James Madison College in celebration of Constitution Day 
  • The MSU Debate Team
  • Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies

Debate Day 2016 - October 2016

Wayland Debate hosted the annual Debate Day for students, coaches, and teachers from across the community on Friday, October 7, 2016.  Debate Day cultivates a culture of academic scholarship grounded in speaking and listening utilizing the policy debate format.  Together, students create pathways for critical thinking, civic life, collaboration and caring while having a lot of fun along the way.  Students were able to watch two demonstration debates and attend breakout sessions tailored to their learning needs throughout the day.

Over 175 students, coaches and teachers attended the daylong event from the following schools: Catholic Central HS, Grandville HS, Grand Rapids City HS, East Kentwood HS, Innovation Central HS (GRPS), Kenowa Hills HS, Mona Shores HS, Northview HS, , Rockford HS, Seaholm HS, Wayland Union HS, Wyoming HS.

Debate Day is the product of collaboration with Michigan State University along with East Kentwood and Wayland High Schools. 

Everett High School Debate Tutorial - January 2016

Members of the MSU Debate Team and coaching staff lead several classes at Everett High school about how to debate and what makes a good debater. Students then engaged in some light-hearted debates about Coke vs. Pepsi and Apple vs. PC. Students will take what they learned and have in-class debates later in the semester to debate school uniforms, the death penalty and search without probable cause.

Spartan Classic 2015 - December 2015

The debate team from East Kentwood High School won the 25th annual Spartan Classic Debate Tournament held at Michigan State University over the weekend. More than 120 students from high schools in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio competed in the tournament.   In the open division, East Kentwood's Abbie Booker and Michael Obuchi defeated a team from Traverse City Central. In the novice division, Portage Northern's Cortney Chow and Roland Dumcombe defeated Glenbrook North's Hannah Farnham and Melanie Ji. High school students debated the resolution “The United States federal government should substantially curtail its domestic surveillance.”

 

Debate Day 2015 - October 2015

Brianna Lewis, sophomore, and  Tyler Thur, senior, joined Carly Watson, Program and Events Coordinator, and Jordon Newton, Debate Team Graduate Assistant, to help East Kentwood High School host Debate Day 2015 on October 9, 2015 at Wayland Union High School. Debate Day aims to bring students, teachers, coaches, and community members together to help promote awareness and prepare our students and coaches for policy debate. Over 100 high school debaters from West Michigan attended.

Jordon, Tyler and Brianna started the day by participating in a demonstration debate on the high school surveillance topic. They each partnered with a high school student from Mona Shores High School or East Kentwood high school. The afternoon sessions were small-group lectures led by MSU Debate members and other area debate coaches.

 Middle School Debate Tournament - April 2015

Saturday, April 18th the MSU Debate Team will host a Middle School Debate Tournament for schools in the area. The resolution for the debates will be: Congress should pass the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.

The MSU Debate Team Tackles Immigration: Should the DREAM Act become a reality? - March 2015

As part of the ongoing Project 60/50, the MSU Debate team argued whether or not Congress should pass the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act during a public event Tuesday, March 3. The event was free and open to the public. Over 75 people from the East Lansing community and MSU attended. The first hour covered the topic through a formal debate and the second hour consisted of a panel discussion. The Debate Team was represented in the debate by Tyler Thur, Briana Lewis, Shannon Fagan and Jonass Placistis. The panel discussion included Kaylee Moreno with Michigan United, Oscar Castenada with Action of Greater Lansing, Ruben Martinez with the MSU Julian Samora Research Institute, Lucinda Briones with the MSU Office of Admissions, and Tyler Thur with the MSU Debate Team. The event was co-sponsored by the MSU Debate team and Office for Inclusion & Intercultural Initiatives.

Spartan Classic 2014 - December 2014

The debate team from H.H. Dow High School won the 24th annual Spartan Classic Debate Tournament held at Michigan State University over the weekend. More than 120 students from high schools across the Midwest competed in the tournament.   In the open division, Dow’s Sam Ungerleider and Kayla Stryker defeated a team from West Bloomfield High School. In the novice division, Dow’s Maansi Dasari and Duncan Donahue defeated a team from Detroit Country Day. High school students debated the resolution “The United States federal government should substantially increase its non-military exploration and/or development of the Earth’s oceans.”

Debate Day 2014 - October 2014

Briana Lewis, freshman, and Tyler Thur, junior, joined Carly Watson, Program and Events Coordinator, and Casey Harrigan, Director, to assist East Kentwood High School and Wayland Union High School hosting Debate Day 2014 on October 15, 2014. Debate Day 2014 aimed to bring students, teachers, coaches, and community members together to help promote awareness and prepare our students and coaches for policy debate. Over 100 high school debaters from the Grand Rapids area attended.

Briana and Tyler started the day by participating in a demonstration debate on the ocean development topic. Briana and Tyler each partnered with a high school students from Mona Shores High School to debate against each other.

Project 60/50 Documentary Showing - August 2014

Nearly 100 high school students participating in the 22nd annual Spartan Debate Institute screened the film “Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North” this week as part of Project 60/50. Project 60/50 marks the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education and the 50th anniversary of the passage and signing into law of the Civil Rights Act.

The documentary film, directed by Katrina Browne, Alla Kovgan and Jude Ray, details a family’s journey to uncover their ancestors’ relationship to the Middle Passage. The family retraces the Triangle Trade and gains powerful new perspectives on the black/white divide. After the screening, Bill Batterman, associate director of debate at Woodward Academy; Chris Randall, a debate team member from Rutgers University; Ryan Galloway, director of debate at Samford University; and Ed Lee, head debate coach at Emory University, moderated a discussion with the students.

Public Debate Series on Campus - April 2014

MSU Debate was hosted by Dr. Michaelson in IAH 207 April 10th 2014. The topic for discussion was the government ought to ensure racial integration in order to fulfill Martin Luther King Jr.'s conception of 'The Dream'.” The public debate is part of Michigan State University’s Project 60/50 conversation.

Darcell Brown, Frosh in Political Science, and Jonass Placistis, Frosh in James Madison, took oppositie sides in the debate and fielded questions from the 200 students in attendance. Topics discussed included affirmative action, mandatory busing and urban development.

Spartan Classic 2013 - December 2013

The Glenbrook North Debate Team took 1st place in the varsity division of the 23rd annual Spartan Classic Debate Tournament held over the weekend. Jared Sawyer and Emily Chen comprised the winning two-person team for Glenbrook North. Sawyer also placed 9th in the varsity speaker division. Sarah Lee, also from Glenbrook North, took 3rd place in the varsity speaker division, and Kevin Ho from Glenbrook South placed 10th. Anna Patent with Glenbrook South placed 5th in the novice speaker division. More than 100 students from schools across the Midwest gathered for the competition. The tournament’s topic – economic engagement in Cuba, Mexico or Venezuela – was modeled after this year’s National Debate Tournament subject. Competition was held Friday and Saturday at Okemos High School in Okemos, Michigan. The final elimination rounds were held on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing.

Public Debate Series on Campus - November 2013

MSU Debate was hosted by Dr. Lance Norman in IAH 207- Identity, Comedy, Perception on Nov. 7, 2013. The topic for discussion was "Does technology improve the modern life?"

Shannon Fagan, a freshman majoring in Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy, argued that, on balance, technology does improve the modern life. Kaavya Ramesh, a senior triple-majoring in International Relations, Chinese, and Comparative Cultures & Politics, took the negative side and argued that technology had reached a point of diminishing returns.

Over 350 students in the IAH class attended the debate, participated in a group cross-examination and voted on the results of the demonstration debate. Will Repko, MSU Head Debate Coach, moderated the debate.

Debate Day 2013 - October 2013

Jonass Placistis, freshman, Marge Strong, sophomore, joined Carly Watson, Program and Events Coordinator, and Casey Harrigan, Director, to assist East Kentwood High School hosting Debate Day 2013 on October 17, 2013. Debate Day 2013 aimed to bring students, teachers, coaches, and community members together to help promote awareness and prepare our students and coaches for policy debate. Over 100 high school debaters from the Grand Rapids area attended.

Jonass and Marge started the day by participating in a demonstration debate on the Latin America topic. Marge and Jonass each partnered with a high school student from Mona Shores High School to debate against each other.

Middle School Debate Tournament and Exhibition Round - April 2013

MSU Debate hosted over 100 middle school students on campus for a year-end tournament. Students debated topics about energy and energy independence - an offshoot of the college topic this year. As a demonstration, the top seeded middle school students debated in a final exhibition round with MSU Debaters. Video of the final round can be found here - http://youtu.be/RKnvLdE3i8E

Presidential Debate Series - Fall 2012

In conjunction with each of the 2012 Presidential and Vice Presidential debates, MSU held non-partisan events to provide expert coverage and analysis for high school students with the goal of producing reasoned civic discourse and an informed public.
The Debate Team partnered with high schools in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and East Lansing to offer a public viewing of the debates, round-table style expert commentary, and a question and answer period.

Several of the events drew over 200 students, demonstrating the demand from high school aged youth for opportunities for political engagement. The events were an outgrowth of the Spartan Debate Institute and Hoya Spartan Scholars programs, which seek to enrich the positive impact of debate at the high school level.

Arab Spring Roundtable - April 2012

After researching the competitive, season-long topic about U.S. assistance for the Arab Spring, the team decided that it should share its insights with the broader MSU student population and held a public roundtable discussion on the issue.

About fifty students, primarily from James Madison College, attended the event held in Case Hall in late April 2012. Topics of discussion ranged from a current events update to a theoretical discussion of the barriers to successful democratization in the Middle East and North African to suggested policy changes for the Obama administration to consider. Each student and faculty member presented on a different topic and fielded questions from the audience.

EPA Environmental Justice Debates - August 2011

On August 25, 2011, MSU debaters Evan Hebert and Troi Thomas participated in a public debate against Wayne State University as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Conference on Environmental Justice.

The EPA debate focused on issues of environmental justice: how environmental and economic policies should be structured to minimize disproportionate impact on specific communities. The MSU students defended a balanced approach of “sustainable development” that places as muchemphasis upon poverty-reduction and economic growth as it places upon environmental protection.

The event, held at the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit, MI, was well attended by members of the local community and conference attendees from around the nation.

The debate was MSU’s third with the EPA, following events in 2009 and 2008.

The MSU Debate Team would like to thank the organizers the EPA – as well as coordinators from Debatesolutions.com – for the continued opportunities to participate in these events, and to showcase how debate skills can translate into a real-world policymaking environment.

Earth Day Debates - April 2010

On April 22, 2010, national champions Carly Wunderlich and Eric Lanning participated in the Earth Day Debates, sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Smithsonian Institution. Debates were held at the Baird Auditorium at the National Museum of Natural History. The MSU students debated two students from the University of Mary Washington on the question of whether the US Congress should pass the Clean Water Restoration Act.

In addition, Lanning and Wunderlich traveled to Washington for a June 10th event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).  The MSU students debated their NDT quarterfinal opponents from Emory University on the question of whether the United States should ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.  Video of this event can be found at http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/7570713.

The MSU Debate Team would like to thank the organizers at the CSIS and the EPA – as well as coordinators from Debatesolutions.com – for the continued opportunities to participate in these events, and to showcase how debate skills can translate into a real-world policymaking environment.

MSU Debate Hosts High School National Championship - April 2008

The weekend of April 12-14, 2008 was an exciting one for MSU debate as the team – along with Okemos High School - co-hosted the National Debate Coaches Association (NDCA) annual championship tournament. 

Many of the nation’s top high school debaters traveled to East Lansing to compete against the best teams from all over the country.  Teams came from as far away Texas, California, and Massachusetts to compete in the tournament, which hosted more than fifty two-person teams.  Two students from the St. Mark’s School of Texas were eventually crowned the new defending national champions.

Water Wars Debates - April 2008

On April 22, 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hosted the 'Water Wars' Debates at its headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Water scarcity has become one of the most contentious issues around the globe, pitting communities, states and nations against each other resulting in political dissent, protracted litigation and even military confrontations. As a part of the 2008 Earth Day activities, four universities were invited to publicly debate these contentious topics. Along with Wake Forest, Mary Washington, and Howard Universities, MSU was privileged to be one of these four.

Junior Garrett Abelkop (Alpharetta, GA) and sophomore Carly Wunderlich (Brookfield, WI) traveled to Washington with Director Greta Stahl and Head Coach Will Repko to take on Wake Forest University on the question of states' rights and water regulation. Wake Forest defended that:

Resolved: That downstream States (i.e. Louisiana) be given authority to directly control discharges and sources of pollutants from upstream States, and impose fines for violations.

Garrett and Carly argued against this proposal, and persuaded many audience members that such patchwork regulation posed threats to environmental

federalism and economic growth. Given its educational (rather than competitive) nature, the debate was officially declared a tie.

MSU was honored to be invited to this event by John W. Davis II, the founder of DebateSolutions.com, and Mr. Ibrahim Goodwin, an Environmental Scientist at EPA's Office of Water, Office of Science and Technology. The event also featured a speech by Jeff Porro, the author of the recent hit film The Great Debaters.

“This event demonstrates that debate is not just a competitive activity, but an educational one,” said Head Coach Will Repko. “Debaters have a real opportunity to influence real world policy makers and push for change.”

Inauguration Debates - January 2008

Michigan State University’s debate team tackled the Obama administration’s energy and climate priorities for its first 100 days as part of the first-ever Inauguration Debate Series, held January 19th in the nation’s capital.

The series, which pitted six schools against each other in three 75-minute debates on the new administration’s policies, was held as part of Barack Obama’s inauguration festivities as well as to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The debates, hosted by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, were inspired by the 100th anniversary of the first debates between historically black colleges and universities, as depicted in the 2007 film The Great Debaters.

MSU faced off against the Wake Forest University on the topic of climate policy.  They were joined in the events by teams from the University of Mary Washington, the University of Southern California, Fayetteville State University, and Voorhees College.

The MSU Team was represented by Carly Wunderlich (Brookfield, WI) and Garrett Abelkop (Alpharetta, GA).

The rest of the MSU Debate Team accompanied Abelkop and Wunderlich to the event, and attended the Presidential Inauguration on January 20th

Debate Workshop - Spring 2007

As part of its ongoing ‘Outreach Project’ work, the MSU Debate team undertook a number of projects to support and work with debate programs in the high school and college debate communities.

On May 17, the debate team hosted a free workshop for in-state school districts that are considering adding debate to their curriculum.  The workshop was a collaborative effort between the MSU debate team and high school coaches from the state of Michigan.  Approximately seventy high school and junior high students, as well as their coaches, attended the workshop.

Head coach Will Repko led an effort to create a debate ‘Wiki’ in the spring of 2007. This set up an online database of debate terminology and key discussions.  It can be viewed at http://sdiencyclopedia.wikispaces.com/