- Site Feedback
- IDEA Sites
- Digital Freedoms
- International Justice
- 2012 Presidential Debates Guide
- Asia Youth Forum
- Big Apple Cogers
- Debate Changing Europe
- Debate in the Neighborhood
- Debating and Producing Media
- Debating the Future of Youth in Africa and Europe
- Dialogue without borders
- Digital Debating Blog
- Free Speech Debate
- Global Youth Forum
- Global Debate and Public Policy Challenge
- International Public Policy Forum
- Online Mentoring
- Securing Liberty Series
- Youth and Sports Mega-Events
- League of Young Voters
"Men are never so likely to settle a question rightly as when they discuss it freely."
Thomas Babington, Lord Macaulay
From its very beginnings, debate has been inextricably intertwined with the concept of open society. In ancient Athens, citizens gathered in forums to discuss and debate the most pressing issues of the day before casting their votes. Such debates were an integral part of the new form of government Athens was to bequeath to the world: democracy.
Unlike totalitarian and other undemocratic regimes, where a limited set of ideas are imposed as absolute truths, democratic societies depend upon the free and open exchange of ideas. Indeed, it may be said that true democracy cannot exist without debate. For democracy to function, the values that debate encourages - reason, tolerance, the careful weighing of evidence, etc. - must be cherished and nurtured. But even within societies that restrict open discussion, debate can teach young people that no one person or government possesses the ultimate truth.
Today, from Haiti to Serbia, from The Netherlands to Mongolia and beyond, IDEA debates are gaining ground as forums for promoting democratic values. Just as Socrates spurred his listeners to examine their assumptions 2,500 years ago, IDEA is today encouraging students around the world to question, to listen to each other and to explore even the most volatile subjects openly and in the spirit of tolerance and cooperation.
Get to know IDEA
Help empower young people to speak up! Download our Discovery Pack. Donate to IDEA.
Subscribe to IDEA
The Best Debaters
University students from across the world compete throughout the year to be the greatest debaters.
Using the records from most major international tournaments, and some clever calculations, our rankings of over 500 societies are updated regularly.