Public forum debate

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Public forum debate (PF) is a type of current events debate for teams of two which is the most widespread form of high school debate in the U.S.[1] Individuals give short (2-4 minute) speeches that are interspersed with 3 minute "crossfire" sections, questions and answers between opposed debaters. The winner is determined by a judge who also serves as a referee (timing sections, penalizing incivility, etc).[2] The debate centers around advocating or rejecting a position, or "resolution", which is a proposal of a potential solution to a current events issue.[2] Public forum is designed to be accessible to the average citizen.[3]

History[edit]

Public forum debate was invented in 2002. It was initially called "Ted Turner Debate" for CNN founder Ted Turner. The "crossfire" period of PF is modeled after Crossfire (U.S. TV program), a political debate show on CNN.[4]

Format[edit]

Each round of public forum debate begins with a coin flip to determine speaker order (whether they speak first or second) and position (pro or con). Then the following speeches take place:[5]

Team A: first speaker: opening speech 4 minutes
Team B: first speaker: opening speech 4 minutes
Crossfire (between first speakers) 3 minutes
Team A: second speaker: rebuttal speech 4 minutes
Team B: second speaker: rebuttal speech 4 minutes
Crossfire (between second speakers) 3 minutes
Team A: first speaker: summary 3 minutes
Team B: first speaker: summary 3 minutes
Grand crossfire (all speakers) 3 minutes
Team A: second speaker: final focus 2 minutes
Team B: second speaker: final focus 2 minutes

Each team is allotted three minutes of preparation time to prepare for speeches. Though it is not common practice, some national tournaments give teams additional prep time. For example, the Yale Invitational Debate Tournament provides both teams with 4 minutes of prep time.[6]

Topics[edit]

Topics are presented as resolutions, meaning they advocate for solving a problem by the means of a certain position. Resolution options and official topics are released by the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) on their website.[7] Competitors are encouraged to focus on the "main issues" of the topic rather than search for obscure arguments.[8] The resolution changes frequently and focuses on current events. Some topics spread the length of two months, while others rotate monthly.[9]

Examples of past topics include:[10]

  • March 2010 – affirmative action to promote equal opportunity in the United States is justified.
  • September 2011 – the benefits of post-9/11 security measures outweigh the harms to personal freedom.
  • December 2015 – on balance, standardized testing is beneficial to K-12 education in the United States.
  • February 2016 – the United States federal government should adopt a carbon tax.
  • April 2017 – the United States ought to replace the Electoral College with a direct national popular vote.
  • January 2018 – Spain should grant Catalonia its independence.
  • February 2018 – the United States should abolish the capital gains tax.
  • September/October 2018 - the United States should accede to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea without reservations.
  • November/December 2018 – the United States federal government should impose price controls on the pharmaceutical industry.
  • September/October 2019 - the European Union should join the Belt and Road Initiative(BRI).
  • November/December 2019 - The benefits of the United States federal government’s use of offensive cyber operations outweigh the harms.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Public Forum Debate". Institute for Speech and Debate.
  2. ^ a b "Guide to Public Forum Debates." University of Vermont. University of Vermont, n.d. Web. 6 October 2014. <https://debate.uvm.edu/dcpdf/PFNFL.pdf
  3. ^ "High School Competition Events Guide" (PDF). National Speech & Debate Association. National Forensics League. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  4. ^ Fedrizzi, Mariann (2010). Debate, Student Edition. Cengage Learning. p. 24. ISBN 9780538449663.
  5. ^ "High School Competition Events Guide" (PDF). National Speech & Debate Association. National Forensics League. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  6. ^ Baxi, Shruti; Boyt, Dalton. "Yale Debate Association Twenty-Sixth Annual Invitational Tournament" (PDF). Tabroom. Yale Debate Association. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  7. ^ "Topics". National Speech and Debate Association. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  8. ^ "Guide to Public Forum Debate" (PDF). Debate Central. National Forensic League. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  9. ^ "High School Competition Events Guide" (PDF). National Speech & Debate Association. National Forensics League. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  10. ^ "Topics". National Speech & Debate Association. National Forensics League. Retrieved 20 January 2019.