Student Debates

All 6 debate team slots have been filled for the 2018 student debates. However, there is still room on these teams for an ESC or ESBC student member to participate. There is also still time to sign up to be an introductory speaker for one of the topics listed below. Please email to sign up!

The ESA Student Debates are lively, cross-examination-style debates held annually during ESA’s Annual Meeting. The Debates are an important educational, as well as entertaining, component of the ESA Meeting.

The Debates generally include three subtopics under a broader main topic selected by the Student Affairs Committee (SAC) and feature the best of ESA’s student membership. The SAC Chair will introduce the program after which the debates begin. Teams are independently judged with the winning team decided by majority vote. The winners and runners-up are recognized at the ESA Student Awards Session where the winners are presented with a plaque for the team and certificates for all participating members of both teams.

The Best Debate Team Award will be awarded to the best student debate team out of all the teams participating at the National Student Debates. The winning team will receive $500 cash, and trophy with their university name engraved on it. The SAC Chair, who organizes the debates, selects the judging panel (which includes students, post docs, and faculty members) that will determine the winning team.

All students taking part in the debates are “invited” speakers through university-sponsored teams. Each team is comprised of three to five members. All debate teams are required to have a formal faculty advisor.

All participants in the debates are winners as this is the only program at the ESA Annual Meeting that can directly culminate in an article in ESA’s American Entomologist.

About the 2018 Student Debates:

The theme of the Joint Annual Meeting of ESA, ESC, and ESBC is: ‘Crossing Borders: Entomology in a Changing World.’ We have identified 3 areas of entomological interest and importance that are current hot topics in Entomology and Science. There will be opportunity for six student teams to take part in the debates, and three introductory speakers. The teams and individuals will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis, and may be made up of team members from the same University or from different schools. Please note that priority may be given to ESA student debates teams who are willing to allow an interested ESC or ESBC student to join their team.

This year, the debates event is titled: “Entomology in the 21st Century: Tackling Insect Invasions, Promoting Advancements in Technology and Using Effective Science Communication”

Our debate topics include:

Topic 1: What is the most harmful invasive insect species in the world? (This could be economically harmful, but quality of life can also play a factor in this debate)

Topic 2: How can scientists diffuse the stigma or scare factor surrounding issues that become controversial such as genetically modified organisms, agricultural biotechnological developments or pesticide chemicals?

Topic 3: What new/emerging technologies have the potential to revolutionize entomology (other than CRISPR)?

All three topics are ‘issue’ topics this year, and teams will decide the stance they want to defend. Only a few slots are available each year, so they fill up quickly. Start forming your teams now!


To participate (as an unbiased introductory speaker or on the debate team), or for more information, email  We hope that ESC and ESBC students will consider participating as well. Please email us to express your interest in participating!

Click here for previous Debate winners.

Click here for previous American Entomologist articles.


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