Video from the 2012-13 Global Debate Final Round

2019-20 TOPIC PRIMER will be released by February

Since the tournament organizers are aware that the resolution selection for this year has been used previously in interscholastic competition, there was consensus that a topic primer would be a useful addition to clarify the expectations for the in-person debates. 

The 2018-19 topic is Resolved: Developing countries should prioritize environmental protection over resource extraction when the two options are in conflict. 


The focal point of the resolution are the trades off and choices between environmental protection and resource extraction.  Resource extraction activities have been practiced for thousands of years. Archaeological evidence indicates that 6,000 years ago Egyptians mined by building a fire against a rock face and then dousing the fire with cold water to split the rock. The use of gunpowder to blast away rock dates back to 1617 in Germany. Open-pit mining is a more recent development, since sophisticated machinery is needed to expose the subsurface material and to haul it away.

Logging dates back to the use of land to raise crops and livestock. In North America, this began in the 1820s on the East Coast and near the end of that century as settlement from Europe expanded westward.

Resource extraction refers to activities that involve withdrawing materials from the natural environment. Logging is one example of resource extraction. If not done in a sustainable manner, logging extracts trees and their removal causes other changes that can result in soil and nutrient removal from the logged area. Even if it is accomplished sustainably, logging changes an environment.  Mining that involves the creation of an open-air pit is another example of resource extraction. Other examples include the oil sands project (the extraction of oil-laden sediment from regions of the Canadian province of Alberta), and the more conventional processes of oil recovery.

In contrast to logging, where trees (a renewable resource) can be replanted and nurtured to permit lumbering for a long time, oil extraction is permanent. Fossil fuels that have taken millions of years to develop cannot be renewed. Indeed, agencies including the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have forecast that the amount of recoverable oil will peak and then begin to decline before the year 2100.

Efforts to minimize the environmental damage of resource extraction can be challenging, as the economic benefits of activities such as logging, mining, and the oil sands are considerable. For example, some critics of the oil sands project in Alberta have decried the minimal restrictions placed on greenhouse gas emissions by the provincial and federal governments.

The deterioration of environment, often referred to as environmental degradation, threatens the earth's natural resources such as clean water supply, fossil fuels for energy, and food supply. This also occurs when resources are over-exploited and leads to a disruption in normal functioning in an area.

The loss of trees reduces the ability of a forest to retain carbon dioxide. As a result, more of this potent greenhouse gas is released into the atmosphere; the increased warming of the atmosphere since the time of the Industrial Revolution, which began in the late-eighteenth century, has been conclusively linked to increased atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. Thus, resource extraction not only has a local effect, but influences the global climate. The Brazilian rain forest, for example, which makes up 30% of the total acreage of rain forest on the planet, is being logged at a rate that if continued could eliminate the forest entirely by 2050.  The oil sands also damage the global environment due to the generation of carbon dioxide in the processing of the extracted oil. Although the Canadian government has committed to reducing Canada’s greenhouse-gas emissions by 20% by 2020, the oil sands project has been given approval for expansion, and the resulting increased production of greenhouse gases could make the reduction target difficult to achieve.


Developing countries are defined according to their Gross National Income per citizen per year. As of 2014 countries with a GNI of US $11,905 and less are defined as still in the developing process (United Nations) Within this scale, developing countries are currently averaging a 20-30 on the scale. Most of Africa is even among a 10-30, and if one looks at some of the highest grossing developing countries which are China, Brazil, India, Russia and Mexico, their corruption level rank among a 20-40.   The use of this term is fundamentally Western nation’s basic concept of standard of living that assumes developing countries struggle with economic development, technological advancement, and internal strife. They are often typified by poverty, high illiteracy rates, and corrupt governments. 

NOTE: Use of the plurality [COUNTRIES] was caused by the adoption of an existing topic not to require teams to defend multiple countries unless they choose to. 

IMPLICATION: Since there are multiple definitions of developing countries, the affirmative has the right to defend whichever one they prefer while the negative retains the right to challenge that choice. 

Prioritize – Merriam Webster - "to organize (things) so that the most important thing is done or dealt with first".

Environmental Protection – A composite definition is provided by the OECD refers to any activity to maintain or restore the quality of environmental media through preventing the emission of pollutants or reducing the presence of polluting substances in environmental media. It may consist of:
(a) changes in characteristics of goods and services,
(b) changes in consumption patterns,
(c) changes in production techniques,
(d) treatment or disposal of residuals in separate environmental protection facilities,
(e) recycling, and
(f) prevention of degradation of the landscape and ecosystems.

NOTE: Since there are multiple definitions of this term, the affirmative has the right to defend whichever one they prefer while the negative retains the right to challenge that choice. 

Conflict The dictionary definition (Merriam Webster) of conflict is: fight, battle, war; competitive or opposing action of incompatibles;  mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes, or external or internal demands; the opposition of persons or forces that gives rise to the dramatic action in a drama or fiction

NOTE:  The organizers intend that the conflict is identified as an inflection point where a choice is required by one or more governments relating to pursuing environmental protection and/or resource extraction.  It does not need to be a zero-sum choice but the affirmative must demonstrate the nature of the conflict. 

Resource extraction – We can generally define "resource extraction" as any action which removes or separates resources from the places in which they exist.  Also we can broadly define a resource as any asset or action which can be used or adapted to yield some advantage.  Merriam Webster provides several possibilities:
a :  a source of supply or support :  an available means —usually used in plural
b :  a natural source of wealth or revenue —often used in plural
c :  a natural feature or phenomenon that enhances the quality of human life
d :  computable wealth —usually used in plural
e :  a source of information or expertise

Humans and animals should NOT be included as resources under any circumstances by the aff or the neg. 


IMPLICATIONS: If a team invokes the primer during the debate, the judge will be told that they should AUTOMATICALLY DISMISS any alternative definition without evaluating the reasons advanced.  

SHOULD-The word "should" is used to express condition or obligation (Merriam Webster).  Used in the context of resolution it conveys the same meaning as "ought".  Note the Cambridge Dictionary defines "should" as " used to say or ask what is the correct or best thing to do".  For this reason, I expect some debaters will apply the meaning to a moral framework.

The tournament officials will not interfere if teams choose to use either definition below or something similar and it is an issue that is up for robust debate beyond the terms listed above. 

Section 1: Eligibility

A) Eligibility for Domestic Competition
To be eligible for competition a student must be a matriculated undergraduate at NYU for the semester of competition.
A team for competition is to consist of two undergraduate students from any of the NYU schools in any combination (i.e., students from different schools may compete together on the same competitive team).
The organizers will make every effort to assist interested students who are unpaired in finding a partner.
Students may participate in the annual NYU Global Debate Program up to four times.

B) Eligibility for International Competition
To be eligible for competition a student must be a matriculated undergraduate NYU student enrolled at one of NYU's international study sites.
A team for competition is to consist of two undergraduate students from any of the NYU schools in any combination.
Students are strongly encouraged to find partners attending the same international study site.
Students may participate in the annual NYU Global Debate Program up to four times.

Section 2: Preliminary Competition

A) Domestic Tournament Rules
All competitors will be entered in a preliminary competition tournament.
The tournament will consist of three rounds on the same day.
Each round will contain five-minute constructive speeches, three-minute rebuttals, and two-minute cross examination. Each team will have five minutes of preparation time per round.
Judges will have an optional five minute cross-examination period.
Each student will complete one constructive, one rebuttal, one response to cross examination, and one questioning during cross examination per round.
Rounds will be judged by faculty of the University and special guest judges.
Within each round judges will assign a winner of the debate to one side only.
Judges will also assign each competitor a rank and a score reflective of their speaking. These points will be used to determine ties in ranking of teams.
Teams will first be ranked based on number of wins, then on team points, and finally team ranks.
The top teams will continue to the Elimination Tournament.
The continuing teams will be announced within three days of the close of preliminary competition.
Judges will write ballots explaining the basis of their decision. The decision of a judge may not be challenged in a round or changed once entered.
The preliminary tournament will be randomly matched for round one & two, and be power-paired for round three.
All tournament procedures, alterations, and questions shall be resolved by the Coordinator, who shall function as Tournament Director.

B) International Tournament Rules
All competitors will submit four-minute videos for the preliminary competition tournament before the annual deadline listed on the Announcements page.
Videos will present arguments in favor of or against the resolution.

There is no specific time breakdown or formatting requirement for the videos [e.g students don't each have to speak for half the time].  All we require is that both students state their N numbers at the outset of the videos, each person speaks in the video, and that the teams take a clear stance on either side of the resolution.   

Any student who is later, confirmed as ineligible, [e.g not enrolled or other violation] by their local site will be disqualified and both their partner and themselves will be eliminated from the competition and their prize monies are forfeited.   
Judges will review and score each video submission.

Video upload locations will be tested in Mid-February and confirmed on Twitter for all competitors. 
Teams will be ranked by points with ties broken on judge preference.
The continuing teams will be announced within five days of the close of preliminary competition.
Judges will write ballots explaining the basis of their scoring. The decision of a judge may not be challenged or changed once entered.
All tournament procedures, alterations, and questions shall be resolved by the Coordinator, who shall function as Tournament Director.

C) Elimination Round Rules
Speech and cross-examination times will remain the same as for the domestic prelim tournament.
Teams will be seeded based on the video submission ballots and the results of the domestic prelim tournament. Results will be pro-rated as required.
Each round will have a minimum of three judges.
Judges will have a twelve minute cross-examination period.
Each student will complete one constructive, and one rebuttal. Cross-examination periods may be shared.
Rounds will be judged by faculty, alumni, previous competitors and administrators of the University as well as special guest judges.
Within each round judges will assign a winner of the debate to one side only.
All tournament procedures, alterations, and questions shall be resolved by the Program Director, who shall function as Tournament Director.
The decision of the judges may not be challenged or changed once entered.
Each advancing team must provide one qualified judge for the elimination rounds.  A qualified judge is a faculty or staff member currently serving at NYU or an NYU alum.    
Advancing team members from Study Away locations and portal campuses will be responsible for booking their air travel arrangements with their local sites unless specifically told otherwise by the Director of the Global Debate Fund.  The Global Debate Fund will cover domestic meals, ground transportation and lodging.
Section 3: Payment Processing


A) Treaty Withholding

Payments issued to individuals classified as non-resident aliens are subject to 30% withholding based on treaty status with the United States. Please contact Financelink and complete the Glacier process to learn if your payments have a treaty exemption or will be subject to Although the employee never completed the Glacier process, if Glacier indicated that he was taxable, it would also be a 30% withholding. If you need to fill out Glacier/GTP information, cut and paste this link into your browser  Glacier information is near the bottom of the page.  

B) Wire Transfers

GDP will be using wire transfers to make payments to international competitors.  Students who advanced to elimination rounds that wish to be paid through wire transfers must provide the following basic information to the GDP staff through a secure NYU-approved means by April 25th.  Bank Name. Bank Address, Bank Account Holder's Name, Account Holder's Address, Account Number, IFSC Code, Switch Code & Branch code.  A letter from your bank stating that information is sufficient.  The information will then be reviewed by Finance.  Based on the banking rules of your country you may be asked to provide other information included but not limited to IBAN/routing # or equivalent; Swift Code, Sort Code or Payment purpose code. 

C) Award Form Submissions and Payment

To receive ANY award, students must submit their Participant Confirmation Letter, a photo and requested biographical information by the stated deadline. Lastly, students will complete either a W-9 [] for US students or a W-8BEN [] for international students. There are specific Stern award forms and expense forms for the Global Debate competition.  All forms will be completed during a mandatory orientation session on Championship Weekend where we will indicate the required information and the required spaces to complete.  If your forms are not submitted by the beginning of the awards ceremony with the correct information. the GDP reserves the right to cancel your award.    

D) Fees and Penalties
Students are responsible for any and all fees associated with changes in travel arrangements after the initial booking whether handled by the Global Debate Fund or not.  Fees arising from flight cancellations, non-participation, or non-compliance with housing policies resulting in additional charges [e.g damage, failure to return keys or other violations] will be deducted from the involved students' prize monies.    

E) Partner Substitutions  

In the rare event, if a student cannot participate in the elimination rounds in NY for any reason, they will be entitled to a maximum of $50 regardless of how far their partner advances.  The partner will have one week to secure a new partner if their exit is prior to one month before the elimination rounds.  Students who competed in either the domestic or international prelims in that semester and did not advance are ineligible to be substitutes.  If the competitor exits with less than one month's written notice or the remaining partner does not secure a replacement in a week, the GDP will select a replacement from its reserve pool. 

Section 4: Rights and Responsibilities of Competitors
Any student competitor will be free to ask for additional instruction or advice at any time via appointment. The Coordinator will be an impartial resource for all competitors.

All competitors will be entitled to the Debate Resource Bibliography.

All competitors may ask faculty of the University for advice on issues related to topic and argument.

All competitors will need to book travel arrangements through their local campus unless otherwise informed in writing by the Global Debate Fund staff. 

All competitors will be expected to uphold the ethical considerations of academic discourse in the process of competition and to represent the University, their school, and themselves to the best of their ability.

A 15 minute forfeit rule will be in place for head-to-head competitions during each phase of the domestic tournament.

Teams may work together and practice with other teams prior to competition to maximize preparation.

Student awards may be subject to additional terms of disbursement by the University pending legal and tax obligations.

If one competitor from a team is unable to participate in the elimination rounds due to verified medical reasons or visa problems, the remaining competitor will be able to secure a different partner for the elimination rounds. If a competitor from a team chooses not to participate for any other reason, the remaining competitor will have the option to debate singly or forfeit their elimination rounds. In any event, no single-member team will be permitted to advance past the semifinal round under any circumstances. The team member who did not compete will receive the octofinal award regardless of how far their partner advances.  

Students who were previously eliminated from either the domestic or international competition are not eligible to be secured as replacement partners.

Each member of all sixteen advancing teams agree to be present for all scheduled events organized by the sponsors including the elimination rounds, any welcome reception, the awards ceremony and the Championship Final Round. Failure to attend these events will lead to forfeiture of their award.

Section 4: What is Debate? 
Debate, as a game or competition, is when two sides agree to oppose each other on the same topic. This, in theory, offers the best test of the ideas.

Our Game:
The Topic: The Resolution will be a statement that something should be done or reflected upon.
The affirmative team supports or contends that this is a good idea, and why.
The negative team contends that this should not be done, and why.
*Key Point: The game assumes that we argue what should be done, not would be done. The negative should avoid arguments about rejection by the government. The negative can make arguments about why it is antithetical to the values of the government or why it may not feasibly work, but the debate does NOT focus on whether or not the government would ever choose to do such an action. 
(Hint: Refer to Strunk and White's Elements of Style for further would/should distinctions.)

A Distinction: What Debate is NOT
Debate is not ARGUING (in the traditional sense)

Debate = Clash of ideas

Therefore, arguments in a DEBATE take on a specific structure:
Claim (opinion, statement)
Warrant (Reasoning behind the claim)
Facts/Data/Evidence to support the reasoning

This structure requires all statements in a debate to have the best support possible and gives multiple ways for ideas to clash:



Claim         <-----  

Warrant     <-----

Evidence                  <-----

An argument can attack the claim, but it can also attack the warrant or the evidence.
The possibilities for clash are increased when a person may agree with someone's claim in a debate, but may disagree about the warrants or the interpretation of the evidence.

Evaluate the evidence!
Refute the arguments!


Claim: We are having particularly nice weather
Warrant: nice weather; it is very enjoyable.
Evidence: Today is sunny, not too windy and warm for November. It's in the high 60s. It was close to 80 degrees in Washington, D.C. this weekend.


1. It is always temperate in fall in NYC, so it is not particularly nice.

2. It is still cool, and a bit windy, and it will be much colder earlier with shorter days.

3. We just had a downpour Sunday night weather in the NE is very temperamental.

4. And it was TOO hot in D.C.

5. We're actually due for one of the snowiest winders this year, so it won't last.

There are eight speeches in the debate. The first four are five minutes each, followed by cross-examinations from the other team.
1st Aff. Speech (5 minutes) | Cross-ex. By Negative (2 minutes)
1st Neg Speech (5 minutes) | Cross-ex. By Aff (2 minutes)
2nd Aff. Speech (5 minutes) | Cross-ex. By Neg. (2 minutes)
2nd Neg. Speech (5 minutes) | Cross-ex. By Aff. (2 minutes)
In these speeches, put out your arguments, supporting data, and, initial responses to the other side.



The next four speeches are three minutes long, and called REBUTTALS.
1st Negative Rebuttal (3 minutes) | 1st Affirmative Rebuttal (3 minutes)
2nd Negative Rebuttal (3 minutes) | 2nd Affirmative Rebuttal (3 minutes)
These speeches are the comparison of the merits of the arguments.

 Strategic Tips by Speech
Use cross-ex's strategically
a. Get clarity on your opponent's points so you respond accurately.
b. Lead your opponent to answer questions to set up arguments in your next speech.
Choose who asks cross-ex's strategically 
a. Do you want the person speaking next to ask questions to set up their speech?
b. Do you want the person speaking next to not ask questions so the can prepare?
c. Do both?
3. All: Use cross-ex's. to establish credibility and control.

1st Aff. Speech: Establish the reasons the U.S. should adopt a policy of universal community service.
Two Choices:
Defend the idea in general
Defend a specific course of action (implementation) [Example: Americorps should administer...]
Paint a picture of why this world would be better/beneficial (consequences/advantages)
Define your ideas clearly
*This may be the best time to refer to supporting evidence
**Speech can be pre-written

1st Neg Speech: Establish the reasons the U.S. should not adopt such a policy. Identify flaws in Aff. arguments.
Types of Arguments:
Evaluate the consequences of the policy (world worse)
Issues affected by such a policy the Aff. does not address
Attack assumptions of affirmative
Argue philosophical opposition
*Some of this speech can be prewritten, some should be direct responses

2nd Aff. Speech: Engage and respond to the negative arguments specifically. Compare to your reasons for supporting the policy.
Continue justifying your own arguments by both referring to and elaborating on what was previously said, and by adding new points if there is time.

2nd Negative Speech:

AND           ----->  These are very similar, try to avoid repetition!

1st Negative Rebuttal:
The negative should develop its reasoning in depth, perhaps dividing arguments between speakers. This is the negative key time to develop their side.
*Here would be the best point for citing data and evidence.
Give evidence and warrants to all claims.
The rebuttal should begin comparing the validity of these claims.

1st Aff. Rebuttal:
Highlight your best arguments AND your side's best responses to negative arguments.As this is a short speech, try to reference previous ideas to save time. Focus on the key ideas to bring clarity to the issues.

2nd Negative Rebuttal:
Pick the issues you're winning on. (Trust me, you're not winning on everything!)
Explain why those issues mean you win the debate.
Predict the aff's best arguments and pre-empt them explain how you've refuted them already or they are less important. (Malcolm X speech example)

2nd Aff. Rebuttal:
Identify your best claims, how they are supported, and why they should win the debate.

*Give the judge criteria for evaluation



Use notes to keep track of what you said AND what your opponent said so that you remember what to respond to.

Develop an abbreviation system to help yourself with notes (and that your partner understands)

Create some kind of organization to notes: i.e. columns for what was said and responded to.


1AS          1NS            2AS               2NR
1)             1)              1) A.              1).

2)             2)              2)                  2)

3)              3)             3) No answer  3)

*Different papers for different ideas can be used