Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of dicussion, dissent, and debate.
— Hubert Humphrey

What is Join the Debates?

THIS ELECTION SEASON, MIDDLE, HIGH SCHOOL, AND COLLEGE STUDENTS FROM ACROSS THE UNITED STATES WILL PRACTICE EACH WEEK ENGAGING THEIR PEERS IN SUBSTANTIVE AND CIVIL CONVERSATION ON ISSUES IMPORTANT TO THE U.S. PRESIDENTIAL Debates and ELECTION. JOIN THE DEBATES SHOWS WHY IT’S IMPORTANT AND TEACHES YOU HOW TO DO IT.


How it Works

For at least six weeks leading up to the U.S. presidential election, students will be leading and facilitating engaging discussions with their peers in classrooms across America. Join the Debates provides teachers and students curricular materials with step-by-step instructions, wide-ranging discussion topics, and advice and suggestions from educators who have successfully used the collaborative discussion method that is at the heart of the project. The rules of engagement for Join the Debates are:

1. Everyone Participates.

2. Step Up, Step Down — Notice if you are taking up too much or not enough talking space.

3. Disagreement is expected, but it should be done respectfully.

4. All students have a shared responsibility for the success of the conversation.

Through Join the Debates, participants will:

  • Engage in controversy in a respectful, constructive manner.
  • Analyze an argument and follow up with thoughtful questions.
  • Articulate their opinions clearly, confidently, and with evidence.
  • Improve teamwork skills, leadership skills, negotiation skills, and observation skills.
  • Recognize/appreciate inclusivity and develop skills around encouraging others to speak.
  • Provide feedback and be reflective about both the conversation topic and format.
  • Point out connections between concepts/opinions expressed within the discussion and the world at large.