Classroom debate ideas

Classroom discussion is one of the most powerful tools for fostering students’ critical thinking, communication skills, and intellectual curiosity. You can incorporate class discussion — and get its many benefits — across many subject areas! With all this in mind, we at Kialo Edu have assembled a library full of classroom debate topics that are guaranteed to ignite lively discussions and stimulate growing minds in the classroom.

From timeless topics to contemporary conundrums, these debate prompts will challenge your students to articulate their thoughts and take on different perspectives. These debates are perfect for middle, high school, or even university students — but can be easily adapted for elementary students as well. Be sure to also check out how you can create your own discussions from scratch! 

Fun debate topics

History debate topics

  • Which would be better to visit: ancient Egypt or ancient Greece?
  • Ancient Athens or Sparta: which was the better place to live?
  • To what extent was Athenian Democracy democratic?
  • Should we admire Alexander the Great?
  • Were the Mongol conquests a good thing in the end?
  • Was Europe more religiously tolerant in 1250 or in 1750?
  • How did the Roman Empire become so great?
  • Was the Industrial Revolution good for society?
  • Which technology had the biggest impact on the world: the railroad, steamship, or telegraph?
  • Was the atomic bombing of Japan justified?
  • Did the French Revolution have predominantly negative consequences?
  • Did the American Revolution advance the rights of women in the colonies? 
  • To what extent were the 1848 revolutions inspired by new political ideas?
  • What was the main cause of the US Civil War?
  • Was Manifest Destiny a positive ideology to have followed?
  • Was the New Deal a success?
  • Was the Treaty of Versailles the main cause of World War II?
  • Which US President was the most significant?
  • Was the United States responsible for the outbreak of the Cold War?
  • What was the main cause of World War I?
  • Should we still celebrate Columbus Day?
  • Should the British Museum return artifacts to their countries of origin?
  • Should European countries pay reparations to their former colonies in the developing world?

Civics debate topics

  • Should public prayer be allowed in schools?
  • What is the strongest argument in favor of the separation of church and state?
  • Should vaccines be made mandatory?
  • Is democracy a good form of government?
  • Should climate policy be decided by a panel of experts rather than by politicians?
  • Should people be able to own personal vehicles?
  • Do public libraries have a role in the future?
  • Should schools be able to ban books?
  • Would it be better to have one universal language?
  • Should all citizens be required to vote?
  • Should 16-year-olds be allowed to vote in general elections?
  • Do the benefits of direct democracy outweigh the costs?
  • Should citizens have to pass a political knowledge test in order to vote?
  • If one benefits from a public good, do they have an obligation to pay tax for it?
  • What is the best mode of peaceful protest?
  • Is Affirmative Action a desirable policy?
  • Should the monarchies be abolished?
  • Are social media explanations or economic explanations of the Arab Spring more convincing? 
  • Which group of people have the most influence over US government policy today?
  • Is taking care of global issues more important than caring about local issues?
  • Should there be a tax on junk food?

Education debate topics

Politics and law debate topics

  • Should the US adopt a form of proportional representation for its presidential elections?
  • Should countries have quotas to ensure representation of minority groups in parliament?
  • What provides a better account for the causes of armed conflict: “greed” explanations or “grievance” ones?
  • Can war ever be justified? 
  • Is populism caused mainly by economic frustrations?
  • Are stable dictatorships more likely to pursue economic liberalization than weaker ones?
  • Is dictatorship preferable to democracy in some instances? 
  • Are nation-states better than any other form of political entity?
  • Which model of representative democracy best achieves the Founding Fathers’ intent for a stable, democratic government in the US?
  • Can nationalism be compatible with democracy?
  • Should there be a cap on private donations to electoral campaigns?
  • Should judges be elected by the people?
  • Is Marx’s theory of value convincing?
  • Should intellectual property be abolished for medicine?
  • What is the best method of constitutional interpretation? 
  • Which purpose of the criminal justice system is most important?
  • Should courts be quick to disregard separate legal personality?
  • Should strict criminal liability be removed from all imprisonable offenses?
  • Is social media a threat or benefit to democracy? 

Technology debate topics

  • Should digital devices replace paper and books?
  • Should kids be able to have social media?
  • Should deepfake technology be regulated by law?
  • Should we break up big tech companies? 
  • Should social media websites have the right to de-platform public figures?
  • Do smartphones make us less smart?
  • Which social media platform would be best to ban?
  • Should coding be a required subject in school?
  • Are there more advantages than disadvantages to open-source software?
  • Are online privacy protections more important than safety?
  • Does technology make us less intelligent?
  • Have mobile phones improved people’s lives?
  • Is it a good thing that most human work will likely be done by machines?
  • Is the internet an overall good thing for society?
  • Should the government protect net neutrality?

Literature debate topics

For more inspiration, browse Kialo Edu’s extensive library of classroom debate topics. Each template comes with background info and prompts, so you can get discussing straight away!

Arts debate topics

Science debate topics

Environmental debate topics

Human geography debate topics

Philosophy & ethics debate topics

  • Can morality exist without religion?
  • Is it immoral for people to own pets?
  • Is war a necessary evil?
  • Do negative life experiences help the creative process?
  • Is religious faith compatible with science?
  • Should human cloning be legal?
  • Is mandatory organ donation ethical?
  • Should there be a death penalty?
  • Should the Pavolsk Experimental Station scientists have eaten the seeds during the siege of Leningrad?
  • Is justice more important than peace?
  • Can our senses be trusted?
  • Is Rawls’ “veil of ignorance” too far removed from the realities of political life to make meaningful arguments about what justice should be?
  • Should speech be regulated in line with John Stuart Mill’s harm principle?
  • Is a truly cosmopolitan global ethics impossible?

Economics and business debate topics

International relations debate topics

Looking for debate topics in more languages? We’ve got you covered! Explore our extensive collection to spark captivating class discussions with students, no matter the language you’re teaching in.

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