Students may not be as enthusiastic about going into a debate as you are. There are many possible reasons for this. However, one way to spice up a debate is by choosing a great debate topic. There are a lot of fun debate topics if you know how to find them. Here are some ways to research debate topics:
How to choose a debate topic?
Find out your students’ interests
Filter topics based on what your students' interests or what you talk about in class. The most fun topics to debate about are those they already know and care about. For instance, young students are passionate about gun control, climate change, and racism. Topics under these would encourage even the shy students to participate in debates in the classroom.
Consider the students level
Consider your students' capabilities when choosing the best debate topics. High school students can deal with more complex topics than middle school students. A good rule of thumb is to find some easy debate topics to research. Younger students will have no problem preparing for the debate this way. Controversial debate topics are more suitable for high school and college students. Such topics are a great way for developing critical thinking, argumentative, and persuasion skills.
Most of the time, the complexity of a topic depends on the phrasing of the debate topic. Pay attention to how you frame the issue or what you want your students to focus on.
Timeliness of the topic
Another consideration in choosing debate topics is the timeliness or relevance of the topic. The most pressing national and global topics are the most interesting debate topics for college students. It is challenging to find a timely topic since there are too many issues and events being reported and talked about all at the same time. But this is worth your while. These topics are new and allow them to engage real world problems.
How to research debate topics
What better way to look for a topic than on the Internet? There are countless articles about everything under the sun. We can even read stories happening in another time zone in real-time. Still, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of information. Here are websites where you can look for the perfect debate topic.
- Google News - Google News can give you an overview of the headlines all over the world. You can survey this page so you have an idea of current happenings in the world. It's easy to look for topics through Google News since it classifies headlines by topic. The categories are: Latest, Your country, World, Business, Technology, Entertainment, Sports, Science, and Health. Google News is a great first step as it can give you an idea about the latest topics.
- Online Newspapers - Online newspapers are accessible for anyone and they provide more information about the headlines that you will find on Google News. Online newspapers like the New York Times and Times Magazine report more than just the facts, they also provide insights on the stories. You will find good examples of good high school debate topics. Online newspapers can help you gain perspective on the news reports. This is important because, as you are probably aware, the issues faced by society are essentially the same (racism, sexism, war, inequality, etc.), with only some modifications. Taking the time to read online newspapers can help you form a new perspective on issues and avoid the pit of using a generic topic.
- Culture and Political Magazines - Culture and political magazines cover news stories and political and cultural criticisms. These are an excellent source for topics that great college debaters can use. Some magazines have sections targeted to students. The New York Times, for instance has The Learning Network. The Learning Network covers stories that the younger generation is concerned with, and they are written by students. Though this is generally more suitable for high school students, you can still get great ideas of debate topics for elementary students. Students would benefit from these types of websites. Introduce them to these sites when you prepare for the debate. It will expand their horizon and exercise their critical thinking.
- Look around - Look around your classroom and your hallways. What issues do your students talk about? What do their posters feature? It would be easier to engage high school students when the debate topics are things that they are interested in and are things that directly concern them. Look around social media, too. You don’t need to snoop around your students’ accounts, but try to explore hashtags and trending topics in your area. Chances are your students are talking about the same things in their free time.
How to debate using pro and con arguments?
All debates are pro and con arguments. One group comprised of 3-4 students is assigned to argue I favor of something, while the other group is assigned to argue against it. Before going to a debate, it’s best to orient the students on the procedure. Specifically, introduce them to the sequence of speakers, how to present a rebuttal, and how to make a closing speech. More advanced students can be taught the different types of debates: the Lincoln-Douglas, the Rebuttal, the One-Rebuttal, and the Oregon-Oxford type of debate. Students can structure their research accordingly and plan their speeches in advance.
CustomEssayMeister has scoured the internet and other sources to prepare the best list of interesting debate topics of 2019. Save your time by choosing a topic from this list of suitable debate questions for your students.
Debate topics by levels of education
When thinking of things to debate about for elementary students, it’s best to stick to topics that they experience or can see around them. This way they are able to tap into their stored knowledge and apply it. One more tip on how to choose a debate topic is to frame the topic in a way that students can learn abstract ideas. For example, some of the topics listed for elementary students teach the students to think about the concept of right and wrong. On the other hand, middle school debate topics start to tackle more complex moral questions.
A. Elementary school debate topics:
These are the best debate topics for grade school students, indeed deeply appropriate. A healthy exercise, these topics will certainly jumpstart their reasoning and analysis skills.
- Is it right to bully a bully?
- Should students be allowed to wear whatever they want in school?
- Should children be allowed to buy whatever they want with their own money?
- At what age should children be made to do chores?
- Should society be allowed to euthanize a terminally ill person?
- Is it right to use animals for scientific experiments?
- Is it ever okay to lie?
- Are dogs the best pets?
- Should animals be kept in cages?
- Should students be allowed to bring their pets to school?
B. Debate topics for middle school students:
The topics, while endowed with a certain depth, are appropriate for early teens. The best debate topics for middle school students with heightened awareness and improved debate skills:
- Is there life after death?
- Is it moral to go to war?
- Is it okay to clone humans?
- Are we too dependent on technology?
- Are we interacting with people less due to social media?
- Does national security justify the use of torture?
- Should the US build the wall on the US-Mexico border?
- Are beauty pageants objectifying women?
- Is euthanasia justified?
- Is global warming an issue?
- Should cellphones be allowed in class?
- Is corporal punishment effective in disciplining kids?
- Is TV making us dumb?
- Is it ethical to eat animals?
- Should there be a dress code in school?
- Electric vs hybrid cars
- Is Earth Hour beneficial for the environment?
- Success is more important than happiness
- Androids are better than iPhones
- Should the US accept immigrants from war-torn countries?
C. Debate topics for high school students:
As high school students already possess a good foundation of reasoning and speaking skills, these best debate topics for high school students should also help give teachers in the sense that they can come up with more topics along these lines:
- Standardized tests should be abolished
- Dress codes sexualize teenage girls' bodies
- Do video games make kids more violent?
- Is social media bad for teens' mental health?
- Should celebrities be expected to be role models?
- Comments made on social media should be protected by freedom of speech?
- Human cloning should be banned
- Should we strive for immortality?
- The US should have universal healthcare coverage
- Vaccines should be mandatory?
- The move to withdraw from the Paris Agreement is good for the US
- Which is better, alternative energy or fossil fuels?
- Corporations should be held accountable for environmental damage
- America should not give foreign aid to other countries
- Which is the best search engine?
- Should government be allowed to detain undocumented immigrants?
- Is it right to punish juvenile offenders as adults?
- Should law enforcers wear body cameras?
- The death penalty should be abolished
- Prisoners should be allowed to vote?
- Is feminism still relevant in the 21st century?
- Public safety should be prioritized than an individual's right to privacy?
- Censorship is a violation of freedom of speech
- Should anonymous posting and commenting be banned?
- Should sex education be taught to high school students?
- Student athletes should be paid
- Guns should be banned completely for civilians?
- Puerto Rico should become a state
- Religion does more harm than good
- Is political correctness restricting freedom of speech?
D. Debate topics for college or university students:
The breadth and range of topics continue to expand. Minds psychologically and emotionally mature enough, these are the best debate topics for college/university students:
- Artifacts from other cultures should be under the care of their country of origin
- The white nationalist movement should be considered terrorists
- Should sex work be legalized?
- Planned Parenthood is effective at keeping abortion rates low
- Should birth control pills be available over the counter?
- Now that marijuana has been legalized, prisoners serving time for marijuana-related crimes should be released
- Are e-cigarettes safe?
- Conversion therapy for LGBTQ+ should be banned
- Should same sex couples be allowed to adopt?
- Donald Trump's racist speeches brought about the rise of the alt-right?
- Native American sacred lands should be returned under the care of indigenous peoples
- Is graffiti a form of art or just vandalism?
- Is freedom of the press under threat? If it is, what are the implications?
- Is the Confederacy part of the American culture? Should it be preserved?
- Is death penalty an appropriate punishment for certain crimes?
- Is it feasible to preserve culture while embracing globalization?
- Should there be a global language?
- The Electoral College is outdated
- How should the US deal with Russian inteference in the 2018 elections?
- Do labor unions have more advantages or disadvantages for workers?
- Israel vs Palestine: who is in the right?
- Do the sick have a right to organs from cadavers?
- We as a society cannot live without technology
- Is bitcoin the next global currency?
- Is the current minimum wage livable?
- Will online universities replace traditional universities?
- Is drug addiction a disease?
- Should the price of prescription drugs be regulated?
- Plagiarism committed by fast fashion companies is hurting the environment
- We, as consumers, should stop patronizing fast fashion
E. Debate topics for undergraduates 2019
Due to college or university being a vast learning ground for a wide array of disciplines for students, the list of best debate topics inevitably expands.
- Should net neutrality be restored?
- Which more sustainable for the environment, paper or bioplastics?
- Should the US increase public health services for mental health care?
- Is homelessness a choice?
- What is the best solution for homelessness?
- What constitutes terrorism?
- The media's coverage of violent crimes and events contribute to more violent crimes
- Newspapers are dying. Should we revive newspapers?
- Is the rise of populism a threat to democracy?
- The amount of advertisements on the Internet has become suffocating and therefore counterproductive
- How can we regulate cyberbullying?
- Are body cameras violating police officers' privacy?
- Should nuclear bombs be abolished completely?
- Should the US life the embargo on Cuba?
- Does using smartphones have any positive effects on children?
- Do patents prevent knowledge from growing?
- Are robots going to replace humans in their jobs?
- Is it ever possible to find evidence to prove the existence of God?
- Is murder ever justifiable?
- Can we achieve a society without crime?
- Is vigilante justice justified?
- Transgenders should use the bathroom that complies with their chosen gender
- Should there be a Straight Pride, just as there is Pride Parade?
- Is the only purpose of sex procreation?
- At what age should sex education be taught?
- Should President Trump be ousted?
- Should the current minimum wage be raised?
- Underemployment rates are still high. Are post-graduate studies still relevant?
- How can the government resolve high underemployment rates>
- Brunei was forced to pull back its law imposing death penalty for the LGBTQ+ after a global backlash. Is pressure from the global community an effective way to encourage progress in other countries?
Persuasive debate topics
Often subjective in nature and contentious, these best persuasive debate topics are worth tackling, both in debate and in writing.
- Should schools abolish grades altogether?
- Everyone should become vegetarian
- Life is better than it was 50 years ago
- Humans are naturally evil
- The influence of media has become far too powerful
- Hollywood needs to be more diverse and inclusive
- Fewer people watch news on TV because news stories have been dumbed down by TV companies
- Social media influencers should be regulated in the same way traditional advertisements are regulated
- "Money can't buy happiness" is a lie perpetuated by the rich to keep the middle class docile
- There should only be one currency for the entire world
- Should the applicant's social media profile be considered in the hiring process
- Is it possible in the future for humans to live in other planets?
- There are things that one gender can do better than the other
- Depressive music influences young people to commit suicide
- Wild animals should not be kept in zoos
- Should the 4-day workweek be implemented?
- The fast food industry should be held accountable for high obesity rates
- Pros and cons of ride-hailing apps
- Regulating testosterone levels for women athletes is discriminatory
- Should professional athletes who took performance-enhancing drugs be allowed to continue playing?
- Socialism vs Capitalism
- Cigarettes should be banned completely
- Which is better, Android or IOS?
- Children should be allowed to wear what they want
- Do tattoos and piercings make someone look unprofessional?
- The voting age should be lowered to 16
- Europeans would have lost World War II if not for American intervention
- Moon landing: real or not?
- Should the father have a say in the decision to abort?
- Maternity and paternity leaves should be paid
Controversial debate topics
Ranging from age-old issues (i.e. abortion) to relevant ones (i.e. ride-hailing apps), these best controversial debate topics promise to thoroughly exercise and enhance the polemic skills of students.
- Abortion should be legalized
- Rape is always the rapist's fault
- Most states are making voting harder for minorities
- Transgender women are women, transgender men are men
- Student loan forgiveness would be good for the economy
- Colin Kaepernick's dismissal from the NFL for kneeling during the National Anthem is evidence of institutional racism in sports
- Should insanity defense be valid for mass shooters?
- Religion has more disadvantages than advantages
- The death penalty should be abolished in the US
- The US needs more lenient immigration laws
- Separating families at the border is unethical
- The US issue on immigration is simply an issue of racism
- Should prisoners be allowed to vote?
- Celebrities should be held accountable for racism and sexism in the messages of their products/products their advertise
- Should celebrities be involved in politics
- Should Young Adult books be considered Literature?
- Is the world headed for another recession?
- Virginity is a myth created to control women
- Should leftover food be given to the homeless?
- Columbus Day should be replaced with Indigenous Peoples' Day
- Teachers should be armed with guns to defend students from shooters
- Should we stop patronizing artists with questionable morals?
- To what extent should people be entitled to their own opinion?
- Were the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings during World War II justified?
Argumentative debate topics
Overlapping in contentiousness with both controversial and persuasive topics, these are nevertheless rife with a varied range of arguments and standpoints.
- Should the top 1% be taxed more than the rest of the citizens?
- Was the No Child Left Behind Act successful?
- Is education too commercialized nowadays?
- Do the medical benefits of marijuana justify its legality?
- Should consumers stop buying from brands that get supplies from sweat shops?
- Should employees be allowed to have visible tattoos in the workplace?
- Has social media made people more isolated?
- Should adoptive parents be given maternity leave?
- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie famously authored the book We Should All Be Feminists. Should we all be feminists?
- The White Lives matter movement only serves to silence minorities seeking justice and equality
- Is there going to be a Third World War soon?
- Should the US become a communist country?
- Can a long distance relationship survive nowadays?
- The prevalence of fake news is the inevitable result of technological developments
- Is it possible to eradicate corruption?
- Some people are simply born evil and there is nothing that can be done about it. Agree or disagree?
- Should former colonizers pay reparations to countries colonized?
- Foreign aid is neocolonialism cloaked in goodwill
- Should we pay ransom to terrorists?
- Should education be privatized?
- Should religion be taught in school?
- What is the reason behind the racial disparity in incarceration?
- Zoos and aquariums are unethical and should be abolished
- Gadget use can have positive effects on a child's development
- The death penalty would deter crimes
- Is addiction to technology real?
- Humanities courses are useless in the real world
- When does human life start?
- Is affirmative action fair?
List Of Debate Topics By Field Of Knowledge
Choosing a debate topic for students can be time consuming. To make the time you prepare for debates shorter, we have classified topics based on subject. Simply pick which topic is relevant or interesting for your students or subject. The topics listed here are more debatable topics for undergraduates in 2019; however you can still get ideas for elementary school debate topics from them.
A perennial topic of scholars, educators, and students alike, education is replete with countless of stances. The best debate topics on education do not run out.
- Is homeschooling better than studying at a school?
- Are standardized tests an effective way to measure students' learning?
- Is it important to study literature?
- Pros and cons of early admissions policies in modern colleges and universities.
- Athletes should be paid for playing in university or college teams.
- Are music and art classes relevant in education?
- Is college education essential to success?
- Is a post-graduate degree worth pursuing?
- Are students nowadays under way too much stress?
- Are student loans exploitative?
- Should there be mandatory drug testing for college students?
- Should homework be compulsory?
- Will online colleges/universities soon replace traditional colleges/universities?
- Should students who were unaware of their parents’ involvement in the college admissions cheating scandal be given a second chance?
- The Common Core has more disadvantages than advantages.
Science and Technology
In the ever-evolving field of science and technology, all debate topics are the best debate topics:
- Scientists have said that technology for alternative energy is now available. Why have we not started the shift to alternative energy?
- In which alternative energy should the US invest?
- Should the racing industry be forced to use biofuels?
- Would driverless cars lessen road accidents?
- Is organic food better than genetically modified food?
- Should we try to use reproductive technologies to bring back extinct species?
- Is the US spending too much money on warfare technology?
- Has warfare technology diminished our value for human life?
- Has the internet made people smarter?
- Is cashless economy the future?
- Would a cashless economy reduce crimes?
- Pros and cons of predictive policing through artificial intelligence.
- Is it safe to have robotic officers patrolling the streets?
- Is Amazon good for the shopping industry?
- Should parents post about the lives of their young children?
Health and Medicine
While this field can easily be categorized under science and technology, it must have its own due to the ever-evolving issues and scientific breakthroughs in health sciences alone. The best debate topics on health and medicine:
- Is it ethical to produce genetically engineered children?
- Should human organ sales be legalized?
- Should the government invest in the development of polypills?
- Pros and cons of robot-assisted surgery.
- Stem cell research should be encouraged.
- Therapeutic cell cloning should be legalized.
- Is obesity a disease?
- Social media is toxic for teenagers’ mental health.
- Which has more influence in a person’s development, nature or nurture?
- Is past trauma as justification for crime acceptable?
- Should the woman be the only to make a decision regarding abortion?
- Is medical data sharing a threat to privacy?
- Should drug addiction be considered a mental health issue or a crime?
- Should employers be required to provide healthcare insurance to all types of employees?
- Healthcare providers are overworked and underpaid.
Yet another category filled with topics fit for healthy discourses. Ever-relevant, these are the best debate topics about the environment:
- Corporations are responsible for large damages on the environment and they should be taxed for it.
- Is nuclear energy a safe alternative to fossil fuels?
- Can ride-sharing apps lower carbon emissions?
- Is Earth Hour beneficial for the environment?
- Who is at fault for the Flint water crisis?
- What is the best solution to the Flint water crisis?
- Should mining be banned?
- As long as capitalism dominates society, the environment will always be at risk.
- Wildlife conservation projects do more harm than good.
- Trophy hunting should be banned globally.
- Regulated hunting can help conserve wildlife.
- The persistence of poaching in African countries has been blamed on poverty. Is this true?
- Saving the environment should be the number one priority of governments today.
- Is solar geoengineering the solution to global warming?
- The fracking process does more harm than good to the environment.
This is self-explanatory. History will an ever-present category when it comes to debate. What could have been? What if? These are just a few of the questions that would hugely dominate the best debate topics on history:
- Why do students need to study history?
- Does history repeat itself?
- World War I was sparked by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, but what is its real origin?
- Given what we know about history, should world powers intervene in disputes between other countries?
- Who is the best president of the USA?
- Was Hitler solely to blame for the Holocaust?
- Is the Vietnam War justified?
- Does Che Guevarra deserve to be treated as a symbol of revolution and non-conformity?
- Recent discoveries show that the US’s history is comprised of systemic oppression of minorities, but this has not been how history is taught. Is historical revisionism such a bad thing?
- Why did past archaeologists and art historians propagate the idea that classical sculptures were pure white?
- Communism is not a feasible form of government and will always fail.
- Can direct democracy work in the US?
- Based on history, is colonialism a good thing?
- What is the best form of government?
- Do royal families still have significance in today’s world?
Policy and finance
Debates in connection to policy and finance are getting more and more intricate in today's society that is getting smaller with every single day. Hence, the need for this best debate topics list:
- Is Airbnb good for tourist destinations’ economies?
- The cryptocurrency industry is a bubble waiting to pop.
- Should Scotland be allowed to rejoin the European Union?
- Can a universal basic income policy help combat poverty and empower workers or just encourage more to stop working?
- Will an international monetary system promote global economic stability?
- Who deserves a tax break, the upper class or the working class?
- The US should eliminate all forms of corporate subsidies.
- Outsourcing only has a positive impact on private employers, and has a negative impact on the economy.
- Offshore outsourcing is exploitative and should be regulated.
- Is the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) better than the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)?
- Trade embargoes are detrimental the economy of both parties involved.
- Is student loan refinancing a feasible solution to the student loan crisis?
- Should the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy be removed?
- Is family separation at the border constitutional?
- Pros and cons of imposing a 15% cap to credit card interest rates.
Psychology, sociology, and ethics
Cultural sensitivity. Solipsism. Memes. Zeitgeists. Rights. These are just a few best debate topics on the field:
- Was the Stanford Prison Experiment ethical?
- The statute in physician-patient privilege that allows the psychologist to disclose private information without the patient’s consent in certain circumstances is still a violation of privacy.
- Is Freud’s Personality Theory still relevant?
- Is texting killing the English language?
- Is female genital mutilation simply a part of culture or is it a human rights violation?
- There are still civilizations not touched by modern society. Should these groups be left alone?
- What is the best system for making moral decisions?
- Is use of isolation and restraint justified in mental health facilities?
- Are antidepressants overprescribed?
- Does social media promote narcissism?
- Are at-risk youth the government’s responsibility?
- If men were allowed to be emotional, the world would be a better place.
- Should celebrities run for office?
- Does religion have a positive effect on mental health?
- Does having same-sex parents have an impact on the well-being of children?
Feminism debate topics
The past 150 years have seen the role of women in society expand by leaps and bounds, and will continue to do so for as long as civilization exists. Feminism debate topics run aplenty:
- Feminism benefits males as much as it does females.
- Why is there a gender pay gap?
- How can the gender pay gap be closed?
- Beauty pageants for women are actually empowering and not sexist.
- Should we all be feminists?
- Women should decide what to do with their pregnancy.
- Transwomen should be treated as real women, and transmen should be treated as men.
- Feminism that supports women unconditionally is counterproductive.
- What does women empowerment truly look like?
- Should pornography be banned?
- Social media influencers are perpetrating impossible standards of beauty.
- What can Hollywood do to prevent powerful people in the industry from sexually abusing vulnerable actors?
- Should children be allowed to choose how they want to dress?
- The stigma against men experiencing domestic violence prevents them from reporting it.
- Rape should be punished with death penalty.
While not bearing the same weight as the other fields, leisure is intrinsic to life, nevertheless.The best debate topics on leisure are worth knowing:
- Can Netflix eliminate movie theaters in the near future?
- Should we stop patronizing artists with questionable morals?
- Does piracy hurt the artists?
- We need more inclusive representation in films and TV.
- What movie genre is the best for relaxation?
- Which is the best gaming console, PlayStation or Xbox?
- Is e-sports a sport?
- Can video games be used for educational purposes?
- Christmas has become a capitalist holiday.
- Why can’t millennials afford to buy a house?
- Because of social media, people are no longer able to socialize in real life.
- Should violent videogames be banned?
- Can yoga help with mental health?
- Does listening to music help maintain focus?
- Is it better to multi-task or to focus on only one task at a time?
Funny and interesting
The icebreaker topics. Everything is better with a little humor, isn't it? So there is every reason to believe that humor makes everything worthwhile. Everything can be interesting with humor, without a doubt. Here are the funniest debate topics:
- Should pineapple be a pizza topping?
- Which is better, pie or cake?
- Do aliens exist?
- Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
- What is the best pizza topping?
- Is it okay to be 30 and still living with your parents?
- Which is better, books or the movie adaptation?
- Does love at first sight exist?
- Romance movies have raised women’s expectations of men too high
- Handwriting is no longer important in today’s digital world.
- Which is better: Marvel vs. DC Comics?
- Would you rather be the hero or the sidekick?
- Are curfews effective at keeping teens out of trouble?
- Will Netflix and other online platforms eliminate movie theaters?
- Is everything fair in love and war?
Essence of debates
As educators, our mission is not just to teach young minds, but also to challenge them. One of the most exciting ways to achieve both, regardless of the level, is through debates. How to choose college debate topics for college students is pretty much the same as how you choose for high school students. The most educators can do is to guide the students in forming their own informed opinion and in arguing for them effectively. My last advice for educators is not to be afraid to choose tough high school debate topics.
All this lies in how you frame the question or the topic. You’ll be surprised the perspectives students can offer when steered towards the right direction.