The Big Questions debates are an opportunity to provide 20,000-25,000 discrete high school and middle school students per year a forum to confront issues that are rarely discussed in other areas of life.
Students will not only grapple with complex worldview questions such as morality, the reaches of religion, and the limits of science; they will be required to debate both sides of each issue. Switch-sides debating has repeatedly been shown as a way to help individuals not just better understand their own beliefs, but also better understand the opposing side. In fact, after three years of using switch side debating in the unique Big Questions format, students repeatedly tell us that this project makes them more open minded on these core questions. At a time when our society is becoming more and more wedded to their beliefs and cutting off discourse in the middle, Big Questions is teaching a generation of students that dialogue and continuously learning more on these subjects is important.
The John Templeton Foundation has proven to be a catalyst for investing in these educational opportunities for students that allow for the exploration of science, religion, and philosophy. At each of these local and geographically diverse events, dozens of students are presenting high level research and argumentation on these fundamental questions. More than just an educational experience for the students, these events have become a way to spur conversation amongst the adults who join as judges and spectators. During the grant period, the National Speech & Debate Association will track student and event participation rates and locations to show the national reach of the Big Questions debates. Through a variety of strategically placed financial resources and free educational materials, this three year grant will expand Big Questions opportunities to a self-sustaining event into which local and regional communities continue to invest.
Templeton.org is in English. Only a few pages are translated into other languages.