Each student is required to participate in two debates.  Debate topics will be assigned as follows.  A sign-up sheet will be passed around the second day of class and each student will choose their first debate topic by writing their name in either the “Yes” or “No” column next to the topic they have selected.  You must choose a topic that does not have a name next to it in either the “Yes” or “No” column.  I would also like to request that you avoid choosing topics if several students have already selected topics under that general heading.  For example, if two or three topics under “Education and Youth” have already been selected, please consider choosing a topic under a different general heading.  After every student has selected their first debate topic, the sign-up sheet will be passed around again and each student will choose their second debate topic by writing their name in either the “Yes” or “No” column (which ever is available) next to a topic previously selected by another student.  That is, you must choose the opposing position for a topic previously selected by another student.  Please read through the list below to identify several topics on which you would like to take a position and debate so you will be ready to sign-up when the list is passed around in class.


You will be expected to debate your topic when the general topic under which it is listed is addressed in class.  For example, if you chose topic 6 “Should schools teach contraception in sex education classes?” you would be expected to debate the topic when issues related to Education and Youth are being addressed in class.  The course outline presents the order in which the general topics are addressed and provides an indication as to when each specific debate will occur.  Students absent or not prepared to debate when called on will be penalized.  You may use whatever resources you believe appropriate, but you should use resources. Your debate arguments should contain more than your opinion. You should provide a strong justification for your position, including evidence to back up your claims and assertions. Use the readings in your text as a guide. There are also books on reserve in the library containing material relevant to most topics.  Good luck and have fun.

Family, Sex, and Gender

1.         Is acquaintance rape a major problem in America?

2.         Should gay couples be allowed to marry?

3.         Should prostitution be legalized?

4.         Is marriage a doomed institution?

5.         Are traditional families better than contemporary families?


Education and Youth

6.         Should schools teach about contraception in sex education classes?

7.         Are standardized tests good measures of academic ability or progress?

8.         Do home schooled children get adequate educations?

9.         Should classes be offered to non-English speaking students in their own language?

10.     Is grade inflation a problem in American schools?

11.     Will spending more money on schools improve educational achievement?

12.     Will raising standards for teachers improve educational achievement?

13.     Should schools focus on core academic subjects like reading, writing, math and science and exclude less fundamental subjects like art, music, and sports?

Crime and Deviance

22.    Should violent youth offenders be tried as adults?

23.    Does gun control reduce crime?

24.    Should police have more freedom to enforce the law?

25.    Is incarceration the answer to the crime problem?

26.    Can gang violence and crime be stopped?

27.    Is white collar crime a problem in America?

Drugs, Tobacco, and Alcohol

28.    Should drug users be incarcerated?

29.    Should people with multiple DUIs have their licenses suspended?

30.    Is prescription drug abuse a problem in America?

31.    Should cigarettes be restricted or outlawed?

32.    Should marijuana be legalized for medical and/or recreational use?

Work and the Economy

33.    Should American workers be concerned about sexual harassment in the workplace?

34.    Is automation of the workplace beneficial to workers?

35.    Should employers be allowed to do random drug testing?

36.    Is the opening of global markets good for the average American?

37.    Can and should social security be saved?

38.    Should the government bail out large corporations to keep them from failing?

39.    Should the government more closely regulate and control the stock market and financial institutions?

40.    Does increasing government spending help the economy?

41.    Is the budget deficit a threat to America’s future?

42.    Is China’s economic growth a threat to America?

Stratification and Inequality

43.    Is racism a problem in contemporary America?

44.    Are gender differences in pay understandable?

45.    Are the aged discriminated against?

46.    Do men do their share of the work at home?

47.    Does American need tougher immigration laws?

48.    Can poverty be eliminated?

Health and Medicine

14.     Do we need a constitutional amendment making abortion illegal?

15.     Have doctors and the health care industry become too powerful?

16.     Have insurance companies done more harm than good?

17.     Will health care reform be good for America?

18.     Does America need a national health care system or insurance program?

19.     Should doctors be required to release the names of patients who test positive for aids?

20.     Should nursing homes be paid less if they provide inferior care?

21.     Should genetic engineering, cloning, and other forms of genetic medicine be pursued?

22.     Should Medicare and Medicaid be eliminated?

Population, Urbanization and the Environment

49.    Should city growth be restricted and controlled?

50.    Has the environmental movement gone too far?

51.    Should America expand its use of nuclear energy?

52.    Should businesses be required to use environmentally friendly technologies?

53.    Should more money be spent on exploring alternative energy sources?

54.    Should offshore oil drilling be increased?

55.    Should Americans be concerned about global warming?

56.    Does the aging of the baby-boomers present a “crisis” for America?

57.    Should Americans be concerned about world population growth?


Politics and Government

58.    Is American democracy in decline?

59.    Should the Electoral College be eliminated?

60.    Is the two-party system beneficial to American democracy?

61.    Should campaign contributions from corporations and interest groups be restricted?

62.    Is American partly to blame for terrorist attacks on American targets?

63.    Should American troups be withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan?

The Mass Media and Technology

64.    Do violent TV and video games increase violent crime?

65.    Should sexually explicit material be allowed on television?

66.    Do corporations and other powerful groups control what is on TV?

67.    Should the internet be restricted and regulated?

68.    Is technology making us more alienated, less sociable, and less human?

69.    Should texting while driving be illegal?

70.    Is Facebook changing our notions of privacy?

71.    Does the media have a liberal bias?

Religion, Beliefs and Values

23.     Has the separation of church and state gone too far?

24.     Does religion create intolerance?

25.     Should hate groups be allowed free speech?

26.     Will restoring traditional religions improve morality and values?

27.     Is America in moral decline?