Our Impact

Why debate? Unlike other forms of discussions, debating makes teams of young people learn to build and use fact-based arguments to support different positions on relevant issues. Those issues must be debatable, meaning that there is a balance of valid arguments on both sides of the issue. Further, participants do not necessarily get to represent the side they personally  agree with - the sides are determined randomly. This helps in:

  • Developing critical thinking and analysis abilities
  • Sharpening research skills
  • Gaining general and specific knowledge in the fields of philosophy, law, international relations, economy, technology, ethics, and more
  • Improving argumentation skills
  • Learning to build and deliver persuasive arguments
  • Understanding more than one side of any issue
  • Learning to disagree and understand other peoples' point of view
  • Gaining the confidence to stand up and speak in a room full of people and for different audiences
  • Practicing how to structure and order thoughts and to identify, introduce, and summarize key points
  • Developing a sense of timing and prioritizing most relevant argumentation within the time alloted for speaking
  • Gaining the flexibility needed to quickly and precisely react to new ideas and critical examination of arguments, strategy, and evidence

Research-supported benefits of debating

language acquisition

When it comes to debating in a foreign language, debate is a great tool for non-native language speakers because it gives them an opportunity to practice their skills, improve their vocabulary, and further develop verbal communication skills.

developing critical thinking

The academic evidence outlining the benefits of debating is compelling - these include examining both sides of issues in a thorough and fair manner, promoting gender equality and advancing feminist perspectives, promoting liberal values in the curriculum, improving student communication skills, helping students overcome their fears of public speaking, increasing active student involvement in the learning process, advancing critical thinking skills to levels which likely could not be achieved via other methods, and empowering students to take responsibility for their own learning, rather than being instructor-dependent.

creating networks of citizens

As a unifying theme, debate has the potential to empower students by helping them become independent thinkers and communicate their positions to others. Moreover, debating circuits, once the initial effort of setting one up has been completed, are self-generating social networks, where experience members coach and support newcomers.
Most powerfully, debate activities are associated with supporting and igniting democratic tendencies, both in established democracies and those sliding (back) into authoritarianism or illiberalism.

The levels of our impact


We create the space in which young people can be exposed to different opinions, attitudes, and personal values, examine, contest, and discuss them amicably and foster their resilience to disinformation, and critical thinking skills. Through encouraging the development of argumentation and presentation skills, teamwork, and independent research, we increase young peoples' employability. 


Debating is a team activity supported by peer-to-peer learning. This inherent feature of our core approach to education creates opportunities for intra-group or intergenerational communication, and provides support to group/community members through debate, discussion, dialogue, interaction, and exchange.


Outside of its' competitive aspect, debating can increase public participation, educate citizens politically, create and nurture participatory heritage and traditions, challenge perceptions or stereotypes, and contribute to strengthening civic culture.


Debate education plays a role within the educational system, youth policy or legislation affecting youth, economy, or (youth) unemployment concerns. It is essential for building a pro-democratic political culture that requires civic participation as well as interest in social issues, causes behind them, and potential solutions.

Recent activities

  • Over 20.000 young people directly involved throughout the network in promoting participation in European Parliament elections in 2019 and beyond.
  • We developed and implemented innovative inclusion programs for religious minorities, immigrant populations, and at-risk youth in several European languages, recognized on the European level by independent evaluators.
  • We are increasing the quality of debate education freely available to young people, unique in the European environment in its focus on active citizenship and critical thinking, preparing over 10.000 young people per year to recognize disinformation, misinformation, and populism.
  • We support member organizations in achieving sustainability and have since 2020 invested over €450.000 in member activities and development of national organizations both inside and outside the EU.

  • We established and mapped the IDEA alumni network, identifying key decision-makers, public figures, and other stakeholders who are shaping the our global, European, and national realities. The system we are developing to support debating across the globe includes former and current members of the European and national parliaments, national government representatives, private entrepreneurs, and media representatives: all ready to promote IDEA’s message of youth empowerment and and informed change.
  • We have created a quality standard for the development of educators and trainers who use debate methodology in their youth work and promote those quality standards in the youth field and across debate organizations.
  • We are focused on creating a multifaceted digital environment supporting debate education, volunteering, youth participation, and youth activism, offering online courses, access to teaching plans and learning materials, opportunities to connect and debate with others all over the world, provide support in organizing debate events, and more.