Rising tensions between Israel and Hamas have come to a head this week with a dramatic eruption of conflict along the Gaza strip, making a debate we held back in 2006, less than a year after Hamas won a majority vote in the Palestinian parliament, all the more relevant today.
The motion being debated that night was: A Democratically Elected Hamas Is Still A Terrorist Organization. The debate, held in front of a live audience in New York City, lasted well over an hour. We’ve culled a sample from each teams’ opening statements to give you a sense of their core arguments.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Is independent political speech the linchpin of our democracy or its Achilles' heel? For democracy to work, some say, citizens (and corporations, and unions, and media outlets, and other voluntary organizations) must be allowed to express their views on the issues, candidates, and elections of the day. This proposition, they say, is exactly why the First Amendment protects the freedom of speech and of the press. On this view, restrictions on independent political speech undermine and subvert our constitutional structure. But others take a different view: If everyone can spend as much money as they like to express their political views, then some voices will be amplified, magnified and enhanced — while others will be all but drowned out. On this view, it is this inequality of influence that subverts our constitutional structure — and restrictions that level the playing field actually enhance rather than abridge the freedom of speech.Full Debate Details
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
If consciousness is just the workings of neurons and synapses, how do we explain the phenomenon of near-death experience? By some accounts, about 3% of the U.S. population has had one: an out-of-body experience often characterized by remarkable visions and feelings of peace and joy, all while the physical body is close to death. To skeptics, there are more plausible, natural explanations, like oxygen deprivation. Is the prospect of an existence after death “real” and provable by science, or a construct of wishful thinking about our own mortality?Full Debate Details
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Millennials—growing up with revolutionary technology and entering adulthood in a time of recession—have recently been much maligned. Are their critics right? Is this generation uniquely coddled, narcissistic, and lazy? Or have we let conventional wisdom blind us to their openness to change and innovation, and optimism in the face of uncertainty, which, in any generation, are qualities to be admired?Full Debate Details
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Is the college of the future online? With the popularity of MOOCs (massive open online courses) and the availability of online degree programs at a fraction of their on-campus price, we are experiencing an exciting experiment in higher education. Does the traditional classroom stand a chance? Will online education be the great equalizer, or is a campus-based college experience still necessary?
Brought to you in partnership with the Richard Paul Richman Center for Business, Law, and Public Policy, a joint venture of Columbia Business School and Columbia Law School. The Richman Center fosters dialogue and debate on emerging policy questions where business and markets intersect with the law. More Information.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Disarming Syria. Asylum for Edward Snowden. Arming Iran. Deploying troops to Crimea. Is Vladimir Putin flexing his muscles, while our own president fades into the background of world politics, or is it all a global game of smoke and mirrors? Russia is one of the world’s largest oil producers and has the power of veto on the U.N. Security Council, but it remains an authoritarian state, rife with corruption and economic struggles. Is our toxic relationship something to worry about, or is Putin’s Russia fading in importance?Full Debate Details
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
With the drone strike on accused terrorist and New Mexico-born Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, President Obama has tested the limits of the executive branch’s powers. Does the president have constitutional authority under the due process clause to kill U.S. citizens abroad, or is it a violation of this clause to unilaterally decide to target and kill Americans?Full Debate Details
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Affirmative action, when used as a factor in college admissions, is meant to foster diversity and provide equal opportunities in education for underrepresented minorities. But is it achieving its stated goals and helping the population it was created to support? Its critics point to students struggling to keep up in schools mismatched to their abilities and to the fact that the policy can be manipulated to benefit affluent and middle class students who already possess many educational advantages. Is it time to overhaul or abolish affirmative action?