Debate Central

Resource built and maintained by the National Center for Policy Analysis - Starting Point page by R.E. Teed (SERC).
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This material was originally created for Starting Point:Introductory Geology
and is replicated here as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service.

Initial Publication Date: December 21, 2006


This site hosts collections of articles, organized by topic and subtopic, dealing with controversial policy issues. The topic for 2003-2004 is ocean policy. There is also an e-mail address through which questions can be addressed to a panel of experts on the topic for the year. There is also a search engine for all web sites dealing with that topic. There are online discussion boards for the last several years' worth of topics. Addtionallly, there is a library of audio and video clips of debates. For educational role-playing, especially in environmental fields, it can be hard to include viewpoints that are important to the real-world issues that are being simulated in the classroom. Debate Central collects news articles, opinion pieces, and websites in order to give instructors as balanced a list as possible. The lists are actually dominated by poular scientific literature, as this material is very prominent on the Internet. Debate Central also includes sample affirmative and negative arguments for all topics, which reflect Libertarian or Republican viewpoints, emphasizing property rights. Older topics (i.e. 1997-1998: renewable energy) do not necessarily have the rich, varied list of annotated links that make the ocean-policy part of the site so helpful.

In their own words "The National Center of Policy Analysis (NCPA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization, established in 1983. The NCPA's goal is to develop and promote private alternatives to government regulation and control, solving problems by relying on the strength of the competitive, entrepreneurial private sector. Topics include reforms in health care, taxes, Social Security, welfare, criminal justice, education and environmental regulation."

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Learning Goals

This website offers:
  • A list of links to the most relevant, well-written resources available on the web about policy issues reflecting diverse perspectives
  • Detailed arguments dealing with each issue listed that emphasize a respect for property rights, a perspective important to certain real-world stakeholders
  • Advice about making a good negative argument in a debate

Context for Use

Debate Central is very helpful to instructors because the material in the links can be used to identify stakeholders in an issue. For students who have been assigned a conservative or libertarian viewpoint, it will be a useful source of arguments and often of scientific information (or a warning that the popular citations are not topical). Good environmental materials are easy to find on the Web, those representing an economic perspective can be harder to track down.

Description and Teaching Materials

Debate Central contains:
  • Subdivided links lists for recent topics
  • A search engine for items relating to the most recent topic
  • An e-mail address through which questions can be addressed to a panel of (conservative) experts on the topic for the year.
  • Online discussion boards for the last several years' worth of topics
  • A library of audio and video clips of debates

Teaching Notes and Tips

The major value of this site is the recent material dealing with both sides of an argument, indicating that policy issues became such because they have no simple solutions.


Not applicable to this resource.