Debates | Roundtables | Dates

Instructions and Procedures for Debates

Students are assigned debate topics and groups after having been asked by Prof. Ginsberg to indicate preferences. Each debate will have a moderator, three debaters on each side, a discussant, and an audience. Debates are limited in duration to 60 minutes. The moderator keeps track of time allocated to each debate group and alerts each group thirty seconds before its time is up; tosses a coin to see which group starts first and which finishes last; fields questions from the audience after the discussants have spoken if time permits; and holds a vote on the issue of the debate at the beginning and at the end of each debate to determine if the debate has changed the views of audience members (debaters, discussants, and the moderator do not vote).

The discussant makes comments and asks questions at the end of each debate. Audience members feed questions/comments to discussant during the two-minute caucuses. The debaters meet as a group at least twice before the scheduled debate to organize a division of labor and a strategy for success based on sound substantive arguments. Debaters are asked not to read prepared statements but rather to speak on the basis of key points they wish to make. Therefore, practice is key to making the debate a success. For every argument a debate group makes, it should anticipate the counter-arguments in order to prepare for the response. Each debate group selects its own team leader who organizes meetings and outlines strategy. She/he also ensures an even distribution of labor and an even distribution of time spent speaking at the debate itself. Prof. Ginsberg expects each debate group to pay him an office visit at least one week before the scheduled debate to discuss substantive points and strategy. Additional readings germane to the debate are also provided by Prof. Ginsberg as needed.

Each group makes a five minute opening statement followed by two rounds of responses. Each group gets five minutes for each round of responses. There are two-minute caucuses between opening remarks, the two rounds, the closing remarks, and the discussants’ comments. The debate closes with a five minute summary statement. Opening and closing remarks may be made by one or more debate group members. The moderator then turns to the discussant, who has five minutes to make constructive comments and ask questions. Each debate group has five minutes to respond when the discussant is finished. If time permits, the moderator may entertain one or two questions for each of the debate groups from audience members. Responses should take no more than one minute each. It is customary for the audience to offer a round of applause both after the end of the debate before the discussant begins and again after the final vote is taken. Students sign up for or are assigned to one debate or one roundtable discussion.

First Debate on October 16. “Appeasement was the Correct Policy in 1938.”

Second Debate on November 21: “Realism is the Best Theory of International Politics.”

Evaluative Criteria Checklist for Successful Debates
Preparation __________ Team Work __________
Substantive Points/Examples __________ Eye Contact __________
Clarity/Quality of Presentation __________ Quality of Responses __________
Convincing Arguments __________ Research/Documentation __________
Use of Counterfactual Logic __________
Use of Theory/Levels of Analysis __________

Instructions for Roundtable Discussion

A roundtable discussion is a small group of students with moderator. Participants speak to the assigned issue and in response to one another. Roundtables normally take 40-60 minutes. Evaluative criteria for performance follow those for the debate with the exception of the criterion for team work.

First Roundtable on October 10: “Who/What Caused World War I and Was it Inevitable?”
Second Roundtable on October 23: “Who/What Caused World War II and Was it Inevitable?”
Third Roundtable on December 5: “Who/What Started the Cold War and Was it Inevitable?”
Fourth Roundtable on December 5: “What Does the Future Hold for the Westphalian State System?”