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Big Questions Debate

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Big Questions is a debate format designed to open students’ minds and encourage them to engage in life discussion that may not align with their previously held beliefs. Whether or not students change their opinion, the rich experience of this debate event will advance their knowledge, comfort, and interest in learning more about the subject matter based on the intersection of science and philosophy.

2022-2023 Update: This spring, schools will not be able to apply to hold BQ events for grant awards. We are always looking for ways to support our students, coaches, and schools financially. Teams seeking support may apply for a school grant through the Keith West Memorial Fund (applications open September 1) or fill out our Needs Request Form

If you have any questions, please contact us at info@speechanddebate.org

New Tournament Opportunity! We are very excited to announce the first-ever Asynchronous Big Questions Scholarship Tournament supported by the John Templeton Foundation! Students in grades 6-12 can enter (for free!) by submitting a recording of their affirmative and negative Big Questions constructive speeches. Over $2,500 in scholarships are available to the top 10 competitors! Registration is due by April 5, 2023. 

Big Questions Debate Topic – 2022-2023

Resolved: Humans are primarily driven by self-interest.

A total of 453 coaches and 1,070 students voted for the resolution. The winning resolution received 43% of the coach vote and 41% of the student vote.

Explore Event Specific Resources

2022 National Speech & Debate Tournament BQ Champion

Learn the Format

Big Questions Debate is a debate format that allows students to debate with a partner or as an individual. Debates may be one-on-one, two-on-two, or two-on-one. Topics last all year and concern the intersection of science, philosophy, and religion. Students are assigned a side of the topic before each round and present cases, engage in rebuttal and refutation, and participate in a question period. Often, members of the public are recruited to judge and observe this event. 

Big Questions Final Rounds Archive

2021 Nationals Final Round

Resolved: Mathematics was discovered, not invented.

2020 Nationals Final Round

Resolved: Objective morality exists.

2019 Nationals Final Round

Resolved: Humans are primarily driven by self-interest.

2018 Nationals Final Round

Resolved: Humans are fundamentally different from other animals.

2017 Nationals Final Round

Resolved: Science leaves no room for free will.

As a coach and educator, I like Big Questions because it allows students to discuss big philosophical ideas in a format that all levels of students can attempt. In a time where teachers are constantly told to increase the rigor and broaden the curriculum, this style of debate offers debaters and teachers an opportunity to do both.

Jeff Stutzman

Concord High School, IN