Debating in class or composing a persuasive paper is a fruitful intellectual practice. Doing so, participants and writers are expected to explore the topic and learn it from various angles. That is why most debatable topics are controversial and require reasonable and logical presentation of both sides of an issue. When using pros and cons format, opponents are working together on constructing a full picture of the theme. It’s all about understanding the opposite point, detecting weak logic, and formulating solid evidence. When preparing to a debate of that kind, you need to outline the viewpoints relevant to both parts and try to predict which arguments the opponents may set against yours. The trick is to evaluate each clause fairly, even if you take the opposite side. This will make you prepared for an objective and reasonable conversation.
How to Choose a Debate Topic for Discussion?
- Choose the question that doesn’t have a single correct answer
Interesting debate topics are open and thought-provoking, so you should focus on those that don’t have an obvious solution. The more ambivalent it is, the better. Make your audience talk and think about it for next week or more!
- Choose the one that you are ready to discuss and have your thoughts criticized
It is important to find a balance between something that fairly interests you and something that is too dear to your heart. If you choose something that makes you emotional, there is a risk that debate will turn into a personal conflict.
- Choose an easy one to make everyone engaged
Despite the fact that a topic should provoke reflection and research, you have to pick something that will provide all participants with equal authority.
- Avoid topics that are too broad
If you propose a topic that sounds like “Animal testing”, there is not so much material to talk about. The only question that emerges from a broad topic like that is: “Is it good or bad?” However, this will work if you add context: “Is using animals for experiments is more ethical and efficient than using humans?” The context makes your topic sound concrete.
A List of the Best Debate Topics 2019
- Are grades and a sense of competition necessary for the learning process?
- Death penalty VS life imprisonment
- Illegal immigration to the USA: is there a solution?
- Should the members of the security forces have body cameras?
- Does a nuclear armament of governments still work as preventive method?
- Should books and exercise books be replaced by laptops and tablets?
- Tracking students’ social media to prevent bullying and violence: is it efficient?
- Should gun control become more tightened?
- Is there any sense in socializing people with autistic disorders?
- Are science and religion in conflict?
- Liberal arts and exact sciences: do they complement one another?
- Antidepressants: is it possible to heal the mental wounds with medicine?
- Should the electorate focus on the human qualities of candidates for presidency?
- Is it a stereotype that financial wealth is linked to villainy?
- Paid housework for women: is this an equality or a threat of capitalism?
These popular debate topics are focused on topical issues and your collegiate or class will surely find them interesting for a conversation. Stay tuned – we have even more topics for you!
Types of Motions in a Debate
Motion describes a central concept of debate and depicts a specific approach you take to handle a certain issue. You are expected to use them as forms of argumentation, appealing to different aspects of the problem. When it comes to a debate method, one can highlight three main types of motions:
- Motions of fact
These motions are straightforward and focus on factual data. They answer the question if something is true or not and are based on facts.
Example: Tracking students’ social media infringe their right to privacy.
These motions are encouraging participants to see the truth beyond doubts and distractions.
- Motions of value
These motions are about a doubtless value. If you claim that something is valuable, you need to create a list of criteria to prove your position.
Example: Charles Dickens is the best writer of all times.
Using this motion, you should clearly define what makes your point reasonable.
- Motions of policy
When using motions of policy, you have to state something that must be done and explain the details. How can this be done? Why it is so important? Who has to do it?
Example: House labor should be paid.
Stating a claim of that kind, you need to build a model, considering the possible opposing points and showing how your proposed model will solve the problem.
When implementing motions into your speech, you should remember that different types of them require different approaches. Your obligations will vary from one motion to another.
Debate Topics by Levels of Education
Obviously, different academic levels require topics of different complexity. For instance, the interests and life experience of high school and university students may vary dramatically. Therefore, we have divided them into separate lists. Check them out!
Debate topics for elementary school
Naturally, elementary school students don’t have too much background knowledge on complicated topics. On this point, they lack critical thinking, research, and argumentation skills, therefore topics should be easy and clear. Obviously, there is no sense or interest for them to discuss complicated cultural, social or political phenomena, however, there are some topics that will help them open their minds to a variety of viewpoints:
- If you find $100, would you keep it?
- Should boys and girls get an education in separate schools?
- Should teenagers have their own credit cards?
- Should media content like music and movies be free for download?
- Should humanity invest money in space exploration?
Debate topics for middle school
Middle school topics shouldn’t be overcomplicated, too. However, they should welcome students to develop their own point of view and provide basic argumentation. It’s important for middle school students to learn how to express their ideas in a clear manner. The possible topics might be:
- Children shouldn’t be allowed to eat junk food.
- Zoos should be banned.
- Are homework tasks necessary for educational process?
- Will movies ever replace fiction books?
- Freedom of speech: should it be regulated by the government in any way?
Debate topics for high school
High school is a preparation for college, therefore students of this age should learn how to make strong arguments and approach debatable issues in a smart manner. Topics for high school can be more complex and ambiguous to let children immerse into the principles of argumentation and learn them from within. The proposed topics are:
- Civil marriage VS traditional marriage
- Should social media websites ban fake news?
- Should human beings be cloned?
- Does technology cause social degradation?
- Does social media have a negative impact on personal relations?
Debate topics for college and university
Most college and university students already have a view of the world. They would gladly accept a challenging topic for debate. Topics for this academic levels should be significantly more mature and require good research. Students are expected to demonstrate their skills and knowledge as well as an ability to analyze background materials. Here are some debate topics for college students:
- Should death penalty be replaced by lifetime imprisonment?
- Do nuclear weapons really prevent the war?
- Can psychological pressure and stressful conditions be beneficial for personal development?
- Does correct grammar in social media and messages matter?
- Right or left brain dominance: is it a myth?
Debate topics for undergraduates
Undergraduates will surely find it interesting to debate on serious topics. Heated and sophisticated disputes on social, political, historical, and cultural issues are most welcome for adult students. The following topics will do:
- Our subjectivity is a product of social environment
- Body VS soul: is it possible to explain all of our feelings and decisions basing on materialism?
- Is artificial intelligence a threat?
- Is religion something more than just “the opium of the masses”?
- Do highly-developed countries have a right to impose views on less-developed countries?
Types of Debate Topics by Format
In general, debate topics can be categorized into three types:
- Argumentative debate topics
As a rule, argumentative topics use pros and cons format. A lot of them argue on political and social issues, avoiding moral and ethical ones since they don’t support logical conversation. The speech holder is expected to provide enough strong arguments to prove that his point is more applicable and correct.
- Controversial debate topics
In general, all debate topics are controversial, however, some of them are not likely to have an obvious solution. Controversial debates are all about reviewing and evaluating as many points of view as possible to build a better understanding of a problem.
- Persuasive debate topics
When participating in a persuasive debate or need to write persuasive essay, a participant has a purpose to convince the audience that his point is more legit than the others. To do so, one should provide as many solid arguments as possible. This type of debate allows using an emotional appeal to the audience.
List of Awesome Debate Topics by Field of Knowledge
- Classroom environment VS self-studies
- Do we need uniforms in schools?
- Exams cannot measure the level of students’ knowledge
- Fast food at schools: should we allow it?
- Is education connected to successful and happy life?
- Should school attendance be optional?
- Is it necessary to include sex education in school programs?
- Are cell-phones and computers good or bad for education?
- Sportsmen should have college privileges for their athletic achievements
- Volunteering is a must for college students
- Physical education at schools should be optional
- Institutions should include at least one foreign language to the educational programs
- Should we have more holidays?
- Is face-to-face communication with tutors better than online education?
- Every student should devote time to creative activity (music, drawing, filming, etc.)
- School bullying should be punishable by law
- Students of all faculties should study math
- Students’ grades should not depend on their handwriting
- Students with low levels of concentration should have more time for test writing
- Any types of prayer should be banned at schools
- Can we say that the Roman Empire has decided the entire culture of humanity?
- Can we make predictions about current and future historical events referring to similar episodes in the past?
- World War I and World War II: was it worth it?
- Terrorism: is there any way to prevent it?
- Did America provoke Japan for war?
- Can we judge the sense of revolution by the outcomes?
- Soviet Union VS USA: was it a real danger or a political game?
- Is it a crime to deny the Holocaust?
- Should history textbooks be controlled and adjusted by the government?
- Should former colonial powers pay compensations to the colonized?
- Is colonization good or bad?
- Should classes at schools be focused on world history or native history?
- Can any attack of one country on another be ever justified?
- Should crimes of previous rulers be punished or forgiven?
- If some episodes of your native history make you ashamed, should they be removed from the textbooks?
- Are movies and fictional books an efficient way to learn about history?
- Can we judge other governments on the basis of our own laws and principles?
- Are there any benefits of military or totalitarian regimes?
- Should foreign countries influence the way they are presented in the books of other countries?
- Is history an important subject or should it be replaced by something more practical like management and computer science?
Health and Medicine
- Are there connections between poverty and low healthcare?
- Should states provide free healthcare to people who cannot afford it?
- Which factors increase the price of healthcare?
- Should treatment of less dangerous diseases start with homeopathy?
- Should medical errors be punished by law?
- Should non-traditional healing methods be a part of a national medical system?
- Is it ethical for doctors to promote particular products?
- Should euthanasia be legalized?
- Should abortion be legalized?
- Is it ethical to isolate mentally ill people from the community?
- Should organ transplantation committee take into account such aspects as social status, personal qualities, and accomplishments?
- Should we legalize medical marijuana?
- Should the commercials of unhealthy products be banned?
- Who can decide whether an old person should be placed in an elderly center?
- Obesity: a personal problem or a social issue?
- Should animal testing be banned?
- Are there any limitations to human testing?
- Should scientists work on the options to make people immortal?
- Should we replace doctors with computers in the future?
- Should the government refuse to import the products that were created at the cost of people’s health?
- What are the limits of presidential power?
- Fake news: a serious issue or an overestimated one?
- Should the government make the gun control tougher?
- Feminism: is it going too far today?
- Should USA function as a world policeman or rather focus on its own problems?
- Should we make the elections a decentralized digital process?
- Does physical punishment serve the right purpose?
- Should global politics do something about environmental problems?
- Socialism VS liberalism
- Is it possible to learn the truth about political events from the mass media?
Psychology, Sociology and Ethic
- Mental disorders come from a wrong upbringing
- Should psychologists treat individuals using general knowledge about social groups, age, and traits of character?
- Is there any objectivity in claiming what is psychologically normal and what is not?
- Should we legalize gay marriage?
- Moral values are formulated by social groups
- Violent behavior of teenagers: can we blame family?
- Is killing animals for entertainment or fur ethical?
- Should we legalize prostitution?
- Is ethical education even possible?
- Should alcohol and cigarettes be banned from public places?
- Is there any connection between unhealthy habits and mental state of a person?
- Should psychiatrists prescribe antidepressants before trying other ways of therapy?
- Is alcoholism a disease?
- Do we have free will or our actions are determined by various factors?
- Can we say that psychology is a science?
- Does a depiction of gender roles in mass media form children’s perception of themselves?
- What determines our decisions: mind or body?
- Is a diagnosis based on DSM criteria valid?
- Is homosexuality a psychological condition?
- Child abuse: where strictness turns into violence?
Policy and Finance
- Are there any ways citizens can influence the financial stability of their country?
- Should we entrust our money to banks?
- Credit cards VS debit cards
- Are debts good or bad?
- Saving VS investing
- Individual stocks VS index funds
- Will digital finance bring benefits to society?
- What decides the future: economy or politics?
- Cryptocurrency: is it a bubble or something that will decide our future?
- Are there any ways governments can make money on global warming?
- The development of IT industry brings benefits to the rich countries only
- Should our country be tax-free?
- Can financial problems ruin the nation?
- Are there any reasons to ban money?
- Should large corporations be obliged to financially support poor people?
- Should capital gains be taxed like any other?
- Is government responsible to solve the unemployment issue?
- Governments support wars because they are economically profitable
- Is it possible to make education free all over the globe?
- Should we make the voting age lower?
Leisure (Sport, Games, etc.)
- Should children of different gender play in the same sports teams?
- Should we allow amateur boxing?
- Competitive sports do more harm than good to children
- Is it possible for video games to be moral educators?
- Can we consider video games as a new form of art?
- Can we compare addiction to video games to other forms of addiction (drugs, alcohol, etc.)?
- Is it possible for games to cause violent behavior in real life?
- A video game is a way to escape reality
- Racial identities and ideologies depicted in video games: are they educational or harmful?
- Video games: a pure entertainment or a new way to deliver important messages?
- Music streaming services: are they any beneficial for musicians?
- Traditional recording process VS digital recording and their effect on creativity
- Performing via computer VS music instruments: does one have more merit than the other?
- Should digital piracy be legal?
- Getting distracted from stress by means of music and movies: is it a good idea?
- YouTube has a good/bad impact on the music industry
- Have digital movies destroyed realism?
- 3D remakes of the old movies: does money play the main part here?
- Censorship in films: should we ban the worst things from the screen?
- Is it moral to revivify the images of actors and actresses, who have already died?
- Environmental possibilism VS environmental determinism
- What is more important: poverty reduction or environmental protection?
- Is climate change a myth?
- Wildlife tourism can protect endangered species
- Should humanity head over to organic farming completely?
- Should we ban the production of diesel vehicles?
- Should we regulate the use of pesticides on the governmental level?
- Should we stop the monoculture?
- Humans exploit environment superfluously because of a growing population
- Technological innovation, institutional change, individual repentance: which approach to climate change is better?
- Is hunting justified?
- To save the endangered species, can we change their lifestyle?
- Who is responsible for pollution: individuals or governments?
- Should gas be more expensive?
- Is nuclear power safe?
- Environment VS technological development
- Renewable energy: pros and cons
- Nuclear energy VS fossil fuels
- Is the wind power enough to fulfill the energy demand?
- Aquaculture: is it safe?
Science and Technology
- Will robots reduce human employment?
- Absolute technological domination: is it hype or possibility?
- The main problem of the Internet: we see only what we want to see
- Do we need space investigations?
- The ethics of genetic engineering
- Digital surveillance and its effect on our moral values
- Neural network technology can lead to mass sociopathy
- Should we grant the human rights to AI?
- Technology has a negative impact on interpersonal relations
- The fast developing technologies have a good/bad effect on human psychology
- Can AI replace teachers and doctors?
- Governments should not keep any scientific discoveries in secret
- Should we colonize other planets?
- Ancient medical science VS modern medical science
- Do social media make the world smaller or bigger?
- Does the Internet need censorship?
- Is it a good idea to have cars that drive themselves?
- Should we limit the research of mechanical reproduction?
- Should we limit scientific investigations on humans?
- Should people find ways to control brains with technologies?
Funny and Interesting Debate Topics
When you have already had enough serious and complicated problems to discuss, it is the best time to check some funny controversial topics:
- Are 15 minutes of fame better than staying in shadow?
- Is social media a stalking tool?
- Fish is the best pet ever
- Would you be a ninja or a pirate?
- Does the world need such superhero as Batman?
- If animals could talk, which one would be the smartest/rudest/most polite?
- Can we say that a hotdog is a sandwich?
- Pineapples in pizza: a culinary perversion or a great dainty?
- Should teachers wear school uniforms, too?
- Who is stronger: Godzilla or Superman?
There are many benefits debating can bring you. First, it increases your awareness of a certain topic, allowing you to make your own opinions and consider the opposite points. Second, it teaches you how to formulate and express your ideas in an engaging way. Third, it helps you to learn how to make strong arguments, using logic, reasoning, and authoritative sources. These skills are necessary for your education, everyday life, and future career. Whether you debate on a serious or a funny controversial topic, there is always something new you can find out. So happy debating and don’t forget to share this post with your friends and classmates!