GLOBAL: Funding to strengthen debate

Following the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States, the Open Society Foundations on Wednesday announced US$20 million in funding to strengthen debate programmes for students around the world.

The Foundations said in a release that today's undergraduates had little recollection of a time before the 'war on terror', which had the unforeseen consequence of stifling public discussion and the free flow of information.

The aim of Global Debates is to help teach students the skills needed to debate public policy issues. Noel Selegzi, Director of the Open Society's Youth Initiative which houses the Global Debates initiative, said: "Debate helps us recognise that public policy is best developed when the force of an argument, and not the argument of force, is most potent."

Universities, colleges and other institutions will be provided with up to three years of funding "to integrate debate across disciplines", the Foundations said. The International Debate Education Association will help to identify and support grantees and implement programmes.

Grants will be awarded to institutions that have either very small or no debate programmes, or want to promote public debates within their broader communities or strengthen the ability of marginalised young people to debate controversial issues affecting their lives.

The Foundations said the funding would also support the creation of educational materials; an online debate mentorship programme; international debate tournaments and competitions; a Global Debate and Public Policy Challenge bringing together the world's best university debaters, policy-makers and academics to tackle an issue of global concern; and a series of Open Society Debates around the world that will address issues of global concern.