National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



JNCHC: Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, Vol. 21, No. 2 | Fall/Winter 2020


© Copyright 2020 by the National Collegiate Honors Council


One reason that honors faculty often engage students in seminar discussions is to keep debate’s features of competition, argument, and discord at bay. Intentionally structured academic debate represents a transdisciplinary pedagogy capable of cultivating ethical and empathetic citizenship through critical and creative thinking. The author uses such debate in a seminar curriculum to engage multiple sides of a single, complex sociopolitical issue with students of different disciplinary backgrounds, thereby fostering new understandings of beliefs: what is believed, why it is believed, and how one might live in accord with one’s beliefs as an ethical citizen. Through research, writing, and oral discourse, the author asserts that intentional structuring moves academic debate beyond mere techniques for winning to help students achieve meaningful engagement with ideas. As such, it merits consideration as an experiential pedagogy to facilitate student learning in honors. A thorough review of relevant literature in honors is presented. Curricular overview and exercise templates are appended.