About the Program

Birth certificates, gaffes, polls, and dogs on roofs: these are topics on which the media focuses during the U.S. presidential election. But the choice that Americans make on November 6 will have monumental consequences for the world and specifically for youth worldwide. The presidential debates provide us an opportunity to learn about the candidates’ policy views. This website synthesizes Obama and Romney’s platforms, and provides more information about the topics they will be debating throughout their campaigns.

The IDEA Guide to the US Presidential Election is the online component of the International Debate Education Association’s U.S. Presidential Election Project. This website accompanies the book, The IDEA Guide to the U.S. 2012 Presidential Debates, to be published September 1. You can order the book free for educational use here.

The project also includes classroom activities, university events, and public debates. Feel free to explore the resources on this site, and whether you are a student, teacher, debater, coach, US citizen, foreign observer, or fellow organization, if you are interested in getting more involved in our project or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact Jesse Towsen.


Full project description below:

International Debate Education Association

Youth Program Summary – Debate, Decide, 2012: The US Presidential Election Project
To foster youth engagement in the 2012 U.S. presidential election, through debate and other non-partisan, educational activities which, through a focus on the candidate debates, can help develop students’ critical understanding of the election’s key policy issues and how those issues affect today’s youth.
Program Summary
The program will include four components: published materials, classroom debates, public events, and international conversations and debates with an online component. IDEA will publish a special issue of IDEBATE Magazine, The IDEA Guide to the 2012 US Presidential Debates, with a companion website, to be available to the general public and distributed freely for use both in classrooms and by student groups. In addition, IDEA will provide high school teachers with lesson plans for analyzing the debates and holding mock debates in the classroom. At least one public debate will be held with high school students, to demonstrate the importance to American democracy of the presidential debates and how candidates could more valuably address the issues in those debates through better and deeper argumentation. IDEA will also coordinate public forums to discuss the debates at several universities. Lastly, with the dual goals of adding international perspectives and providing a forum for interested foreign citizens to discuss the debates in an informed manner, IDEA will create a web space for debaters and other interested citizens to read about the historical and institutional context of the debates, as well as to follow, discuss, and critique the 2012 debates.
Why Connect Youth to the Debates?
Through educational debate, youth can actively and intellectually engage in the presidential election, and can develop an understanding of how important the candidate debates are to American democracy, as well as how they could be improved. With the prominence of Get Out the Vote campaigns, issue education is particularly important for voting-age youth, so that young Americans not only vote, but also do so in a thoughtful and informed manner.
Target Participants
The program will reach three main groups: high school students, young voters (often university students), and interested members of the public, especially internationally. IDEA will contact and offer free materials to both high school teachers and debate clubs. University student groups will also have access to materials and will receive help in organizing informative events at their schools surrounding the candidate debates and the election in general. The forum for international discussion will be publicized on IDEA’s website, idebate.org, and through debate-related publications and contact lists.
Online materials will be available in July, and will be updated throughout the election. The magazine issue will be available in September, ahead of the October debates. Events and activities will be held throughout the fall, mostly surrounding the candidate debates, and continuing with critical reflection after the November election.