Student Debates

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 2017 Student Debates:

The theme of the Entomology 2017 meeting is: ‘Ignite. Inspire. Innovate.’ 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.

This year, the debates event is title: “The Anthropocene: Implications for Arthropods and Biodiversity”
Our debate topics include:

  • What is the most important threat to global arthropod biodiversity?
  • What is the most urgent and feasible use for CRISPR/Cas9 in Entomology?
  • What is the best way to increase beneficial insect diversity in urban areas?

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

2017 Student Debate Schedule, Instructions, and Rules  

To participate, or for more information, email

Click here for previous Debate winners.

Click here for previous American Entomologist articles.

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