Public Forum Debate Resources

Quick Guide To Public Forum Resources

1.  Monthly Topic (National Speech and Debate Association)

2.  Monthly Topic Lectures (Public) (NYC Debate Center and NYC Debate Club)

3.  Monthly Topic Handbooks (NYCUDL Teachers, Password Protected)

4.  Weekly Interactive Current Event Trivia (NYCUDL Teachers, Password Protected)


Introduction to Public Forum Debate

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. 


The Public Forum Debate Topic

Click for the Public Forum Topic Scroll down to "Public Forum" and the month


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.


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Topic Lectures

In addition to the topic handbooks (and please see our Teacher Resources section to access the Public Forum Handbooks which are from third party publishers and copyrighted and so password protected on our site. These handbooks have topic overviews, sample cases, bibliographies and sample arguments.) We also have topic presentations and lectures that are recorded from our Debate Center. Each month we host a Topic Lecture that is open to all NYCUDL students, schools and coaches. We also record these lectures which are stored here. 


NYCUDL Monthly Topic Lectures


Public Forum Debate Teacher Resources

Click below for teacher resources for public forum debate. *Note - these resources are only available for NYCUDL teachers.  If you have not yet registered your school you can do so by clicking here.   If you have registered with the UDL, the email you signed up for should enable you access. If not you can contact us at



Public Forum Debate Student Resources

Students can access the resources below to help with public forum debate. Materials include general guides on public forum debate as well as overviews of the monthly topic by the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA), the NYC Urban Debate League and other organizations. 

Click for Student Resources


Past Topics

  • January 2018 – Resolved: Spain should grant Catalonia its independence.
  • December 2017 – Resolved: NCAA student athletes ought to be recognized as employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • November 2017 – Resolved: The United States should require universal background checks for all gun sales and transfers of ownership.
  • September/October 2017 – Resolved: Deployment of anti-missile systems is in South Korea’s best interest.
  • Nationals 2017 – Resolved: In East Africa, the United States federal government should prioritize its counterterrorism efforts over its humanitarian assistance.
  • April 2017 – Resolved: The United States ought to replace the Electoral College with a direct national popular vote.
  • March 2017 – Resolved: The United States should no longer pressure Israel to work toward a two-state solution.
  • February 2017 – Resolved: The United States should lift its embargo against Cuba.
  • January 2017 – Resolved: In order to better respond to international conflicts, the United States should significantly increase its military spending.
  • December 2016 – Resolved: The United States should end Plan Colombia.
  • November 2016 – Resolved: On balance, the benefits of the Internet of Things outweigh the harms of decreased personal privacy.
  • September/October 2016 – Resolved: In United States public K-12 schools, the probable cause standard ought to apply to searches of students.
  • 2016 National Speech & Debate Tournament – On balance, a one-day national primary would be more beneficial for the United States than our current presidential primary process.
  • April 2016 – Resolved: To alleviate income inequality in the United States, increased spending on public infrastructure should be prioritized over increased spending on means-tested welfare programs.
  • March 2016 – Resolved: The United States should withdraw its military presence from Okinawa.
  • February 2016 – Resolved: The United States federal government should adopt a carbon tax.
  • January 2016 – Resolved: On balance, economic sanctions are reducing the threat Russia poses to Western interests.
  • December 2015 – Resolved: On balance, standardized testing is beneficial to K-12 education in the United States.
  • November 2015 – Resolved: In response to the current crisis, a government should prioritize the humanitarian needs of refugees over its national interests.
  • September/October 2015 – Resolved: The United States Federal Government ought to pay reparations to African Americans.
  • 2015 National Speech & Debate Tournament – Resolved: The benefits of First Amendment protection of anonymous speech outweigh the harms.
  • April 2015 – Resolved: Committing United States ground combat troops to fight ISIL is in the best interest of the United States.
  • March 2015 – Resolved: In the United States, students should be guaranteed two years of free tuition to a community or technical college.
  • February 2015 – Resolved: On balance, economic globalization benefits worldwide poverty reduction.
  • January 2015 – Resolved: United Nations peacekeepers should have the power to engage in offensive operations.
  • December 2014 – Resolved: For-profit prisons in the United States should be banned.
  • November 2014 – Resolved: On balance, the benefits of genetically modified foods outweigh the harms.
  • September/October 2014 – Resolved: On balance, public subsidies for professional athletic organizations in the United States benefit their local communities.
  • 2014 National Speech & Debate Tournament – Resolved: NATO should strengthen its relationship with Ukraine in order to deter further Russian aggression.
  • April 2014 – Resolved: Prioritizing economic development over environmental protection is in the best interest of the people of India.
  • March 2014 – Resolved: Single-gender classrooms would improve the quality of education in American public schools.
  • February 2014 – Resolved: The Supreme Court rightly decided that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act violated the Constitution.
  • January 2014 – Resolved: Development assistance should be prioritized over military aid in the Sahel region of Africa.
  • December 2013 – Resolved: Immigration reform should include a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.
  • November 2013 – Resolved: The benefits of domestic surveillance by the NSA outweigh the harms.
  • September/October 2013 – Resolved: Unilateral military force by the United States is justified to prevent nuclear proliferation.
  • 2013 National Speech & Debate Tournament – Resolved: The benefits of American drone strikes against foreign targets outweigh the harms.
  • April 2013 – Resolved: The continuation of current U.S. anti-drug policies in Latin America will do more harm than good.
  • March 2013 – Resolved: The U.S. government should not require its citizens to have health insurance.
  • February 2013 – Resolved: On balance, the rise of China is beneficial to the interests of the United States.
  • January 2013 – Resolved: On balance, the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission harms the election process.
  • December 2012 – Resolved: The United States should prioritize tax increases over spending cuts.
  • November 2012 – Resolved – Current U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East undermines our national security.
  • October 2012 – Resolved: Developed countries have a moral obligation to mitigate the effects of climate change.
  • September 2012 – Resolved: Congress should renew the Federal Assault Weapons Ban.
  • 2012 National Speech & Debate Tournament – Resolved: Stand Your Ground laws are a legitimate expansion of the doctrine of self defense.
  • April 2012 – Resolved: State mandated administration of childhood vaccinations is justified.
  • March 2012 – Resolved: The United States should suspend all assistance to Pakistan.
  • February 2012 – Resolved: Birthright citizenship should be abolished in the United States.
  • January 2012 – Resolved: The costs of a college education outweigh the benefits.
  • December 2011 – Resolved: In the United States, current income disparities threaten democratic ideals.
  • November 2011 – Resolved: Direct popular vote should replace electoral vote in presidential elections.
  • October 2011 – Resolved: Private sector investment in human space exploration is preferable to public sector investment.
  • September 2011 – Resolved: The benefits of post-9/11 security measures outweigh the harms to personal freedom.
  • 2011 National Speech & Debate Tournament – Resolved: That the United States should intervene in another nation’s struggle for democracy.
  • April 2011 – Resolved: The United States federal government should permit the use of financial incentives to encourage organ donation.
  • March 2011 – Resolved: North Korea poses a more serious threat to United States national security than Iran.
  • February 2011 – Resolved: Wikileaks is a threat to United States national security.
  • January 2011 – Resolved: In the United States, plea bargaining undermines the criminal justice system.
  • December 2010 – Resolved: Cyberbullying should be a criminal offense.
  • November 2010 – Resolved: High school Public Forum Debate resolutions should not confront sensitive religious issues.
  • October 2010 – Resolved: NATO presence improves the lives of Afghan citizens.
  • September 2010 – Resolved: Allowing deep water offshore oil drilling is in the best interest of the United States.
  • 2010 National Speech & Debate Tournament – Resolved: Current trends in American political dialogue compromise meaningful democratic deliberation.
  • 2010 NCFL Nationals° – Resolved: That the constitutional right of freedom of religion has wrongly evolved into freedom from religion.
  • April 2010 – Resolved: On balance, government employee labor unions have a positive impact on the United States.
  • March 2010 – Resolved: Affirmative action to promote equal opportunity in the United States is justified.
  • February 2010 – Resolved: In the United States, organized political lobbying does more harm than good.
  • January 2010 – Resolved: President Obama’s plan for increasing troops in Afghanistan is in the United States’ best interest.
  • December 2009 – Resolved: That merit pay based on student achievement should be a significant component of K-12 teacher compensation in United States public schools.
  • November 2009 – Resolved: Failed nations are a greater threat to the United States than stable nations.
  • October 2009 – Resolved: When in conflict, the United Nations should prioritize global poverty reduction over environmental protection.
  • September 2009 – Resolved: United States policy on illegal immigration should focus on attrition through enforcement rather than amnesty.
  • 2009 National Speech & Debate Tournament – Resolved: That the United States should normalize relations with Cuba.
  • 2009 NCFL Nationals° – Resolved: A society has an obligation to ensure adequate health care for its citizens.
  • April 2009 – Resolved: That the Employee Free Choice Act of 2009 serves the best interest of the American people.
  • March 2009 – Resolved: That, on balance, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 has improved academic achievement in the United States.
  • February 2009 – Resolved: That, on balance, the rise of Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC) has had a positive impact on the United States.
  • January 2009 – Resolved: That, by 2040, the federal government should mandate that all new passenger vehicles and light trucks sold in the United States be powered by alternative fuels.
  • December 2008 – Resolved: That, on balance, social networking Web sites have a positive impact on the United States.
  • November 2008 – Resolved: That the United States government should implement universal health care modeled after the French system.
  • October 2008 – Resolved: The United States should significantly increase its use of nuclear energy.
  • September 2008 – Resolved: That the United States should implement a military draft.
  • 2008 National Speech & Debate Tournament – Resolved: US policies established after September 11, 2001 have substantially reduced the risk of terrorist acts against the United States.
  • 2008 NCFL° Nationals – Resolved: That the US Government should increase social services for indigenous peoples in America.
  • April 2008 – Resolved: That the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 will successfully mitigate economic slowdowns over the next year.
  • March 2008 – Resolved: The US system of presidential primaries is contrary to democratic values.
  • February 2008 – Resolved: That Russia has become a threat to U.S. interests.
  • January 2008 – Resolved: In a democracy, civil disobedience is an appropriate weapon in the fight for justice.
  • December 2007 – Resolved:That the United States would be justified in pursuing military options against Iran.
  • November 2007 – Resolved: That eliminating United States government budget deficits should be prioritized over increasing domestic spending.
  • October 2007 – Resolved: That the United States should encourage the implementation of a soft partition of Iraq.
  • September 2007 – Resolved: That the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated.
  • 2007 National Speech & Debate Tournament – Resolved: That the private ownership of handguns should be banned in the United States.
  • 2007 NCFL Nationals° – Resolved: That the President and Vice-President of the United States should be elected by a direct vote of the American citizens.
  • April 2007 – Resolved: United States corporations should honor all prior commitments to employee pensions.
  • March 2007 – Resolved: That the quantity of credit available to American consumers should be significantly reduced.
  • February 2007 – Resolved: The costs of legalized casino gambling in the United States outweigh the benefits.
  • January 2007 – Resolved: That lobbyists negatively influence the legislative process in the United States.
  • December 2006 – Resolved: Colleges and Universities in the United States should end their early admission programs.
  • November 2006 – Resolved: That participating in multinational diplomatic efforts is beneficial to U. S. interests.
  • October 2006 – Resolved: Current immigration laws in the United States should be enforced.
  • September 2006 – Resolved: That the benefits of NASA’s space exploration programs justify the costs.
  • 2006 National Speech & Debate Tournament – Resolved: That the United States government should ratify the Kyoto Protocol.
  • April 2006 – Resolved: That the American media work against the best interest of the American public.
  • March 2006 – Resolved: That big box retailers benefit the communities in which they are located.
  • February 2006 – Resolved: That the policy decisions of the current Israeli government toward the Palestinian state have improved prospects for peace in the Middle East.
  • January 2006 – Resolved: In the United States, public high school science curriculum should include the study of the Theory of Intelligent Design.
  • December 2005 – Resolved: That the National Basketball Association (NBA) should rescind its dress code.
  • November 2005 – Resolved: That the United States federal government should fund Hurricane Katrina relief and rebuilding by ending President Bush’s tax cuts.
  • October 2005 – Resolved: That the United Nations should be the primary agent to lead and direct the fight against terrorism around the world.
  • September 2005 – Resolved: In the United States, colleges and universities should be permitted to pay stipends to their Division I athletes.
  • 2005 National Speech & Debate Tournament – Resolved: That, when a choice is required for public high schools in the United States, government funding should prioritize vocational education over college preparatory education.
  • April 2005 – Resolved: The United States should issue guest worker visas to illegal aliens.
  • March 2005 – Resolved: Student aptitude should be assessed through standardized testing.
  • February 2005 – Resolved: In the United States, the current system of federal income taxation should be replaced by a flat rate income tax.
  • January 2005 – Resolved: The United States Constitution should be amended to establish a mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court Justices.
  • December 2004 – Resolved: Corporate offshoring aids in the economic development of the United States.
  • November 2004 – Resolved: The United States government should allow Americans to purchase prescription drugs from other countries.
  • October 2004 – Resolved: In the United States, public opinion polls positively affect the election process.
  • September 2004 – Resolved: That he United States should establish a cabinet-level position to oversee its entire intelligence community.
  • 2004 National Speech & Debate Tournament – Resolved: All young adults in every nation should be required to perform at least one full year of national service.
  • April 2004 – Resolved: English should be the official national language of the United States.
  • March 2004 – Resolved: The United States should provide universal health care insurance to all U.S. citizens.
  • February 2004 – Resolved: Americans should be allowed to share copyrighted media over the internet.
  • January 2004 – Resolved: The United States is losing the War on Terror.
  • December 2003 – Resolved: Congress should repeal the No Child Left Behind Act.
  • November 2003 – Resolved: That Federal judges should be elected in their district for a limited term rather than appointed by the President for a life term.
  • October 2003 – Resolved: That the United States should comply with United Nations’ decisions concerning international peacekeeping operations.
  • September 2003 – Resolved: Use of a cell phone should be prohibited while operating a motor vehicle.
  • 2003 National Speech & Debate Tournament – Resolved: That the United States should assume primary responsibility for the rebuilding of Iraq.
  • April 2003 – Resolved: Awards for pain and suffering in medical malpractice cases should be limited to $250,000.
  • March 2003 – Resolved: Affirmative action should not be practiced in college and university admission.
  • February 2003 – Resolved: The death penalty should be abolished in America.
  • January 2003 – Resolved: The Federal Government should authorize oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve.
  • December 2002 – Resolved: The the “Bush” tax cuts should be made permanent.
  • October/November 2002 – Resolved: Commercial airline pilots should be armed in the cockpit.

° The National Catholic Forensic League (NCFL) sets its own topics. The Association provides this for informational purposes only.