I recently held team debates in my introduction to international relations course on a variety of topics. Here are the topics the students debated, along with the “pro” and “con” “prompts” I provided them.
- Resolved: That the coming power transition between China and the U.S. appreciably raises the risk of war between the two powers over the next 40 years.
Pro: Joshua Keating
Con: Lynn White
- Resolved: That the best way for governments to prevent civil war is to boost security and credibly threaten to punish rebellion harshly.
Pro: Barbara F. Walter
Con: Ted Gurr
- Resolved: That the optimal level of U.S. counterterrorism expenditure is close to zero.
Pro: Mark Thompson
Con: John Mueller and Mark Stewart
- Resolved: That democracy promotion programs can make the world a safer place.
Pro: Steven Brooke & Shadi Hamid
Con: Christopher Coyne
- Resolved: That liberalizing trade, investment, and immigration, not foreign aid, is the best way for Western countries to promote development abroad.
Pro: William Easterly
Con: Dani Rodrik
- Resolved: That most developing countries have little bargaining power vis-`a-vis multinational corporations.
Pro & Con: Shah M. Tarzi
- Resolved: That transnational advocacy networks make little difference in the human rights practices of authoritarian regimes.
Pro: Emilie Hafner-Burton
Con: Margaret Keck & Kathryn Sikkink
How would you come down on each of these resolutions? What do you predict my students thought? (I held a vote of the class after each debate.)