Debating in a Global Context

The vast majority of World Schools topics require that debaters analyze the round with an international perspective. This article reviews the primary ways to increase your understanding of global events.

World Schools Debate is unique in that it analyzes topics from a global perspective. Whereas other formats typically limit the debate to a certain region, usually the United States, World Schools challenges debaters to both understand and argue perspectives that differ across the globe. In light of its global emphasis, students are often discouraged from participating in the format, but we have several suggestions to increase your comfort with debating in a global context.

1. Understand Current Events

Developing a thorough understanding of political and social events occurring throughout the world is the most important aspect of World Schools Debate. This means consistently reading and watching the news is essential. A few news sources that curate commonly debated international topics are BBC, Reuters, NPR and the Washington Post. Each of these sources has sections dedicated to global and current events, and most offer short podcasts that you can frequently listen to before tournaments. Small actions, like checking these sites for a few minutes a day or listening to a podcast or radio network when in the car, ensure that you will have a detailed and in-depth understanding of current events for your World Schools rounds.

2. Remember Government Structures

Commonly-debated global topics often relate to political events happening around the world. But it is critically important to remember that different countries have different abilities or desires to enact the policy you are defending or negating. In other words, different countries have varying government types. According to the 2020 Democracy Index, of the 167 nations globally, “there are 23 full democracies, 52 flawed democracies, 35 ‘hybrid regimes’ and 57 ‘authoritarian regimes.’” So, when you are creating a case, think deeply about how a democratic, as opposed to an authoritarian country would respond to a given policy.

3. Considering Fiat Abilities

The keyword when debating a global topic is “feasibility.” This does not mean how difficult it would be to implement a plan but rather the logistical implications of a policy. Using an example, let’s analyze this idea with the topic, “This house supports a global wealth tax.” The proposition team can fiat that a global wealth tax would be implemented, but they cannot ignore the mass backlash or political capital that would be required. At this point, the debate would become about whether the implications of the wealth tax would outweigh the potential benefits provided by the proposition team.

4. Frequently Debate

The most effective way to understand global policy is to debate frequently. Whenever you have the opportunity, engage in dialogue and discourse about a given topic. Whether this is a formal World Schools round, or a discussion with a peer, arguing different perspectives of important global issues will increase your comfort with such discussions.

For more information on global debate, please visit our World Schools Resource page.