Public Forum Debate is one of the most accessible and popular debate formats in the United States. “Public Forum” Debate was created for exactly that – a debate format that is easily accessible to the general public – no debate experience required to debate, judge or teach. But while accessible to beginners, it is just as rigorous for experienced debaters as any other debate format with debate topics that rotate each month and require in-depth evidence-based research and argumentation.
Topics are nominated by the National Speech & Debate Assocation (NSDA) and voted by all students and coaches. Click here for the current topic (scroll down to the debate event of “Public Forum Debate.” Topics are announced the 1st of the month preceding the debates. For example, the December debate topic is announced on November 1st. Voting takes place the week prior. This way debaters have a month to prepare for the topic. Topics are national so the same topic for that month is used in nearly every tournament across the nation. Currently, the NSDA topic is for both high school and middle school and so the NYCUDL follows the national topic for both our high school league and the middle school league.
The NSDA PF Wording Committee chooses a number of debate topics at its summer meeting. These areas are then used throughout the school year. During the last week of the month (or seven days prior to the topic release date), chapter advisors and member students may vote for one resolution to be used as the next PF topic.
If you would like to submit a PF topic area for consideration, please submit by June 1 for the following school year to the NSDA. The initial Public Forum topic is a two-month topic in September/October and then reverts to a month-to-month topic. This schedule benefits novices who have more time to learn and improve their skills without switching topics.