Debate Events at Newark Debate Academy 

Policy Debate

Policy debate is the oldest format of debate that is offered at NDA. This type of debate dates all the way back to the 1890s and was found in many colleges across the nation. In this format of debate students debate in pairs creating a debate that is two-on-two. These debates focus on a policy question that gives students a topic or resolution for the entire school year. This format tests student’s research, analytical, and delivery skills. Policy debate has two sides: the affirmative who proposes a plan in which they enact a policy, while the negative side proves reasons why that policy should be rejected. There are also periods of cross-examination where the students get to ask questions of their opponents. Along with cross-examination every student gives two speeches in each debate, these debates last about 90 minutes. Policy debate is the most common form of debate at the college level. Some examples of resolutions include:

  • The United States federal government should substantially increase its non-military exploration and/or development of the Earth's oceans. (2014-2015)
  • The United States federal government should substantially reduce its military and/or police presence in one or more of the following: South Korea, Japan, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq, Turkey. (2010-2011)
  • The United States federal government should substantially increase social services for persons living in poverty in the United States(2009-2010)

Lincoln-Douglas Debate

The Lincoln-Douglas debate format (LD) is named after the debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglass and was created in 1979. In this type of debate students debate one-on-one, topics are typically based on issues of morality and values, they range from issues of individual freedom to collective good to economic development. The topic in LD changes every two months creating a wide breadth of topics over the academic year. LD also has cross-examinations periods, an affirmative side, and a negative side similar to policy debate. An entire LD debate takes about 45 minutes. Some examples of resolutions/topics in LD include:

  • A just society ought to presume consent for organ procurement from the deceased. (September/October 2014) 
  • The United States ought to guarantee universal health care for its citizens. (November/December 2012) 
  • Developing countries should prioritize environmental protection over resource extraction when the two are in conflict. (January/Febuary 2014) 

Public Forum Debate

Public Forum (PF) debate is the newest debate event that NDA offers, it was created as an event in 2002. In this format teams debate two-on-two and debate topics about current events. In this event there is a pro and a con, the pro argues in favor of the topic and the con argues against the topic. Students engage in both rebuttal and refutation and also have a period called crossfire where opponents can ask each other questions in a back and forth manner. Public forum debate unlike most forums of debate is often judged by a citizen judge, a judge with no prior debate knowledge, someone who is just a member of the local community. An entire PF round takes about 35 minutes. Public Forum topics also change every month during the school year. Some examples of resolutions/topics in PF include:

  • The Supreme Court rightly decided that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act violated the Constitution. (Feburary 2014) 
  • The benefits of domestic surveillance by the NSA outweigh the harms. (November 2013) 
  • NATO should strengthen its relationship with Ukraine in order to deter further Russian aggression. (June 2014)

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2016-2017 Resolutions

Elementary Grades

The United States federal government should increase its engagement with the People's Republic of China for climate change cooperation.     

High School

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its economic and/or diplomatic engagement with the People's Republic of China.


Resolved: The United States should establish a domestic climate policy, including at least substantially increasing restrictions on private sector emissions of greenhouse gases in the United States.