Project two

This project will examine both sides of some controversial issue relevant to the course, and culminate in an in-class debate. In formulating strategy, it is critical to understand both sides of an issue. Even if your role is to advocate one side, you must understand the other side. Thus, in this project you will first formulate the arguments on both sides, but then argue only one side in the in-class debate. Although groups typically begin with a preconditioned opinion, they often come away surprised by the strength of the opposing position.

Milestones and deadlines

See the course calendar for due dates for the project milestones and the date and time of your in-class debate.


Milestone 1. Each group will rank by preference the debate topics below (taking in account also the date of the debate). The instructors will then assign each group a topic trying to follow preferences while ensuring that each topic has two groups assigned to it to facilitate a debate.


Date of in-class debate













Milestone 1: Web-posted white paper (due seven days before in-class debate):  Each group will research and internally discuss both sides of this issue and prepare a white paper with length no greater than 2500 words outlining the background and issues involved on both sides of this issue, and post it on WebCT (you will not make this presentation available to the class as a whole until after the debate). This presentation should not advocate a position, but rather analyze both sides of the issue. Please do not discuss this research with the other group working on your project; we want these to be independent analyses. Send email to your instructors reminding them that you have posted your report, and also indicate in your email which side of the debate you would prefer to defend in class.


Milestone 2: In-class debate. You will be informed in advance of the in-class debate as to which side you will defend. If your debate is on a Tuesday, you will be informed on the previous Friday morning. If your debate is on Thursday, you will be informed the previous Monday afternoon. We will assign you your preference if the two group's preferences are compatible, or flip a coin if they are not. The debate will proceed as follows:



Obviously you will want to prepare a rebuttal to expected arguments on the other side, as well as adjust your rebuttal as you hear the other side’s actual arguments.




The group grade will be based on both presentation and performance in the debate, the latter rated by peer review of your all students who did not participate in the debate (30%) and instructors (70%). There will be no designated winner and loser of the debate, but rather each side will be graded by the quality of their arguments in advocating their side of the issue, taking into account its intrinsic strength. The individual grade will be based on the evaluation of your participation and contribution by other group members. Here are the criteria for grading and the weighting of those criteria:


Web-posted presentation (50%)

Sophistication of analysis, quality of conclusions


Scope, completeness, and detail taking into account the group size




Organization and style


In-class debate (50%)

How well the group represent its side


How well the group rebutted the other side



Classmates not participating in the debate will fill out a form rating the groups’ performance in the debate. This input will constitute 30% of the in-class debate grade.