Policy Debate

Purpose of Policy Debate

The goal of policy debate is to compare policies, such as “the U.S. Government should substantially invest in speech education,” and decide which strategy is best.

Policy Debate Topic

The National Speech and Debate Association determines the policy that will be debated annually in the form of a resolution that is promulgated by the organization. The Official Resolution sets the stage for what policies teams will contest.

Structure of a Policy Debate

In a policy debate tournament, teams compete in several rounds. In each round, there are two sides: affirmative and negative. Usually, each team will have to debate an equal number of times as the affirmative team and the negative team during an event.

The affirmative team in a policy debate round proposes a plan of action that supports the resolution. The AFF competitors demonstrate through evidence that the affirmative case is needed and will work to solve the need. The AFF side fits typically within the broader framework of the resolution. The affirmative team explains why their plan is a good idea and usually argues that the plan proposed by them will accrue certain advantages over the status quo.

On the other hand, the negative team in a policy debate round supports the status quo and argues that the affirmative case will not work, will make the problem worse, or will cause more problems than it solves. Alternatively, the negative team may agree that there is a problem, but offer a better solution, called a counterplan. Lastly, the negative side may argue that the affirmative has strayed too far from the framework of the resolution and proposed a plan that is unfair because the negative team could not prepare for a good debate.

More Information

Walk Through a Policy Debate

Order and Purpose of Speeches in a Policy Debate

NDCA (National Debate Coaches Association) Policy Debate Resources

  • NCDA Evidence Packet
  • Lesson and Curriculum Plans
  • Lectures
  • Textbooks

Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Policy_debate