Worlds School Debate: An Introduction

World Schools (WS) Debate is an international debate activity that has gained popularity in the last five (5) years and is currently practiced by hundreds of schools from around the world. Schools compete in teams of 3-5 students. There are two (2) teams in every round and three (3) students from each team will give speeches in the debate. There are four sets of speeches in a WSDC round: the first speeches, the second speeches, the third speeches, and the reply speech. The first three sets of speeches are eight minutes in length and the last speech is four minutes long.

Debates center around a range of international topics. One example is the topic “This house believes that corporations cannot be trusted to make ethical decisions.” Another example is “This house would ban drilling for oil in the Arctic Circle.” Typically topics cover a diverse range of issues, from environmentalism to economics and foreign policy to ethics.

World Schools Debate emphasizes winning arguments with a conversational, approachable speaking style, and delivering subject matter in such a way that the average bystander can fully comprehend the subject of this debate. Because many competitors are not native English speakers and have English as their second language, worlds school debates avoid "spreading", also known as "speed talking".

Fundamentally, WS rounds are won and lost on two levels: the principle and the practical. Frequently, the ethical consequences of taking an action contradict with the pragmatic payoffs. One can imagine a scenario where a military leader mounts an aggressive and deadly offensive on a terror cell in the hopes of deterring future attacks. This may be a pragmatic way to hopefully save lives, but it is another question as to whether or not such a move is ethically sound. Conversely, there is the debate over which side will pragmatically improve the lives of humans the most. Worlds strikes a balance between these two poles and successful competitors must be skilled at navigating this balance.