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Northwest Missouri State University

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Hot Topics

The purpose of this page is to offer ideas for students giving presentations or writing informative, position or persuasive papers. Some professors limit topics, such as abortion, so it is best to check with her/him.

CQ Researcher provides a "BROWSE TOPICS" menu.

Opposing Viewpoints in Context offers links to current topics under broad categories. Click "View All" to the right of each category.

Points of View suggests categories and includes a "+More" link. Click "Show All" for a combined list.

Student Research Center, offers broad topics and limiting to K-12 reading levels.

Abortion Farming Obama, Barack
Affirmative Action Foreign Policy Online Dating
AIDS Gambling and Lotteries Police Work
Alcohol on Campus Gang Violence Politics
Alcohol and Driving Gay Rights Population Explosion
Animals Generational Conflict Pornography
Athletes Government Regulation Prison Overpopulation
Birth Order Green Movement Prostitution
Capital Punishment

Gun Control

Presidential Debates
Censorship Hate Crimes Political Advertising
Child Care Hazing Racial Discrimination
Clinton, Bill Health Religion in Politics
Clinton, Hillary Healthcare Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
Cloning Hoarding Sexting
College requirements Homeless Sex on Television
Computer Crimes Human Trafficking Sexual Harrassment
Copyright Hunger Space
Cosmetic Surgery Illegal Aliens "Stand your ground" Law
Crime, Violent Immigration Stalkers
Cyber Bullying Interpersonal Communication Student Loan Debt
Date Rape Middle East Surrogate Mothers
Day Care Juvenile Criminals Taxation
Drug Abusers Marketing Practices Terrorism
Drugs Maternity/Paternity Leave Texting
Eating Disorders Medical Treatment Veterans
Education Medical Experiments Violence on Television
Environment Military Policy Welfare
Family Violence Natural Disasters Women

These other links may help you to develop a topic:

IDEA, the International Debate Education Association

Paper Topics and Opposing Viewpoints, California State University Long Beach

Pros and Cons of Controversial Issues

Global Issues, including Latest Updates

Issues Under Debate
See also
"Population Explosion"
  • What limits are responsible?
  • What limits are realistic?
  • How to protect abortion doctors, pregnant women and the unborn protection of abortion clinics vs. right to protest
  • Partial birth abortion
  • Scientific evidence vs. definition of viability
  • Unborn victims of violence
Affirmative Action
See also "Racial Discrimination"
  • Relative equality has been achieved vs. serious inequities continue
  • Can racial balance in business, education, military be achieved without policies that promote Affirmative Action
  • Reverse discrimination
  • Rights of the individual vs. community safety
  • Continued f unding for research
  • U.S. obligation to third world countries
  • Manufacturing of generic drugs vs. U.S. pharmaceutical companies
Alcohol on Campus
  • Limits for campus safety vs. personal freedom
  • Implications on violence and crime
  • Issues with binge drinking
Alcohol and Driving
  • Leniency because of condition vs. community safety
  • Revoking drivers license vs. being able to attend classes and work
  • The inequity state by state of convictions
  • Age discrimination of violators
  • Animal rights vs. medical research
  • Humane treatment of animals vs. factory farms
  • Animal welfare in slaughter houses
  • Animal protection vs. business, employment interests
  • School prestige vs. academic standards
Birth Order
  • Correlation to academic achievement? behavior problems? creativity?
Capital Punishment
  • Fear of mistake or sanctity of life vs. demand for justice
  • Needed in public school library/curriculum?
  • Needed in entertainment industry?
  • Needed on the Internet?
Child Care
  • Business vs. parental responsibility
  • Right to privacy of a child with AIDS vs. safety of other children
Clinton, Bill
  • Impact of global initiative
  • Influence on fundraising
Clinton, Hilary
  • Knowledge of international governments
  • e-mail usage when Secretary of State
  • Influence on human rights, especially women
  • Potential benefits vs. potential abuses
  • Ethical issues
College Requirements
  • ACT or SAT score requirements
  • Promotional techniques, such as 1st time scholarships
  • 4 year vs. 2 year colleges
Computer Crimes
  • Online porn vs. freedom of speech
  • Stalking, invasion of privacy vs. reasonable access
  • Hacking crimes--workable solutions?
  • Is downloading of media (music, videos, software) infringing on the rights of media producers/artists and causing economic hardships on media creators?
  • Should media producers prosecute students and individuals that they suspect of downloading copyrighted materials?
  • Programs such as Spotify and Pandora
Cosmetic Surgery
  • Age limitations on surgery
  • Addiction to surgery
  • Demand for beauty by society
  • The dangers of breast implants for teenagers
  • The cost of cosmetic surgery
Crime, Violent
  • Victim's rights vs. rights of the accused
  • Should hate crimes be a separate category?
  • Negative texting, instant messaging, email, social media
  • Is cyberbullying as bad as face-to-face bullying?
  • Kinds of punishment for cyberbullying
  • Media response
Date Rape
  • Conflicting testimony (he said/she said)
  • Drugs associated with Date Rape
Day Care
  • Government support vs. parental financing
  • Benefits vs. harmful effects
  • Elder Care
Drug Abusers
  • Punishment vs. treatment
  • Family reactions
  • Social acceptance
  • Community safety vs. legalization
  • United States military involvement in Colombian drug trade?
Eating Disorders
  • Body image and social expectations
  • Bulemia
  • Anorexia


  • No government support vs. fairness to parents who pay twice for education
  • Separation of church and state vs. religion's contribution to the public good


  • Placement by age vs. placement by academic ability
  • Mainstreaming students with disabilities vs. special classrooms for special needs
  • Required standardized tests for advancement vs. course requirements only
  • National standardized tests vs. local control of education
  • Multicultural/bilingual education vs. traditional basics
  • Teacher competency tests vs. degree requirements only
  • Teacher's needs/demands vs. teaching as a service profession

School Violence

  • Policing schools
  • School's responsibility vs. communityl responsibility

Youth Problems

  • Drug and alcohol abuse, pregnancy, suicide
  • Zero tolerance toward violence vs. toughness with flexibility
  • Permit corporal punishment
  • At risk behavior
  • Global warming
  • Pollution, air, and water
  • Endangered species
  • Rain forests
  • Alternative energy?
  • Excessive burden on industries?
  • Drilling for oil in Alaska in ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge)
  • Gasoline consumption vs. SUV's popularity
  • Wildlife protection vs. rights of developers
  • Clean air and water standards--weakened vs. strengthened
Family Violence
  • Protecting victims vs. rights of the accused
  • Partner who kills abusing partner vs. punishment for murder
  • Marital rape?
  • How to protect children vs. respect for parental rights
  • Children who kill abusing parents
  • Child abuse--workable solutions?
  • Organic farming vs. mainline use of chemical sprays
  • How to best protect the environment; conservation
  • Family vs. corporate farms
  • Food production costs
  • Sustainable agriculture
Foreign Policy
  • Interventionism?
  • Third world debt and World Bank/International Monetary Fund
  • Military support vs. economic development of third world countries
  • Human rights violations
  • European Union in competition with the U.S.
  • Unilateralism
  • Relevance of the United Nations
  • Neocon role in foreign policy
  • Christian right influence on foreign policy
  • Pentagon vs. State Department
  • Nation building as a policy
  • Arms control
  • Control vs. containment of al Qaeda or ISIS/ISIL
Gambling and Lotteries
  • Easy way to earn state revenues vs. social damage
  • Individual freedom vs. social damage
  • Do lotteries actually benefit education or is it a scam?
Gang Violence
  • Youth gangs, prison gangs, international gangs--workable solutions?
  • City government initiatives
Gay Rights
  • Marriage rights vs. same-sex equality
  • Adoption rights?
  • Need special rights for protection?
  • College campus response to various sexual/gender orientations
Generational Conflict
  • Elderly to share in the tax burden vs. government support of elderly
  • Future of social security
  • Age discrimination
  • Child rearing
  • Generational cultural differences
Government Regulation
  • Rights of business vs. protection of workers, consumers, environment
Green Movement
  • Sustainability of buildings
  • Recycling programs
  • Cost of "green" programs
  • Alternative energy (solar, wind, renewable fuels)
  • Landfill/ocean issues
Gun Control
  • Community and police safety vs.. unrestricted right to bear arms
  • NRA (National Rifle Association)
  • 2nd Amendment
Hate Crimes
  • Punishment inequities
  • Persecution of alternative lifestyles
  • Prevention of hazing
  • Greek organzations and rituals of hazing
  • High Schools and hazing
  • Low carbohydrate vs. low fat diets
  • Benefits of weight training vs. aerobics
  • How much weekly exercise is needed to achieve lasting health benefits
  • Health websites give false information
  • Psychological disorders, such as cutting and self-harm, eating disorders, Autism, Tourette Syndrome, ADHD, ADD, Asperger Syndrome
  • Causes, symptoms and treatments
  • Types of hoarding
  • Urban restrictions vs. needs of the destitute
  • Workable solutions?
Human Trafficking
  • Human trafficking: international or domestic
  • Child traffficking
  • Is prostitution human trafficking?
  • How do organizations combat trafficking
See "Poverty"
  • Food programs
  • Welfare reform
  • Governmental supplimentation
Illegal Aliens
  • Children of illegal immigrants
  • Access to public school and public programs?
  • Policing borders--workable solutions?
  • Employment and/or taxation
  • Realistic limits vs. openness toward people in need
  • English as official language vs. respect for diversity

Interpersonal Communication

  • Decline of communication due to technology
  • Online social networks and their influence
  • Impact of texting and cell phones
  • Relational conflict
Middle East
  • International trade
  • Arms control
  • Democratization
  • Two-state solution?
  • Oil and gas prices-control of resources
  • Effective self-government
  • Terrorism
Juvenile Criminals
  • Sentencing as juveniles vs. as adults
  • Beginning age for capital punishment?
Marketing Practices
  • Limitations of the media
  • Marketing to children
  • Sexual innuendos in marketing
Maternity/Paternity Leave
  • Parental leave for both parents
  • FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act)
  • Bonding time vs. impact on other employees or business
Medical Treatment
  • Limits on extraordinary, costly treatments vs. doing everything possible
  • Nutritional/alternative therapy vs. mainstream medical treatment insurance coverage for alternative treatment?
  • Age discrimination
  • Health superiority of alternative treatments?
  • Assisted suicide vs. preservation of life
Medical Experiments
  • Ethics of experimentation on humans?
  • Ethics of experimentation with aborted fetuses?
  • Ethics of experimentation on animals?
Military Policy
  • Proportionate response
  • Use of drones
  • Intelligence reliability
Natural Disasters
  • Federal vs. state support
  • Preparedness
  • School emergency plans
  • Community warning systems
Obama, Barack
  • International policy and impact
  • Judge nominations and make up of supreme court
  • Congressional opposition to presidential nominees
  • Erosion of civil liberties vs. national security protection
  • Affordable Health Care
Online Dating
  • Disadvantages or advantages
  • Hazards
  • Societal acceptance
Police Work
  • Police brutality vs. dangers that police face
  • Racially motivated brutality?
  • Profiling
Political Advertising
  • Influence of PACs
  • Most controversial political ads
  • Campaign funds and their relation to political advertising
  • Politician's right to privacy vs. the public's right to know
  • Campaign finance reform vs. reform is unworkable

Population Explosion

  • How serious? Causes? Workable solutions?
  • Funding abortion as a form of birth control in third world countries?
  • Limitation of social deterioration vs. freedom of speech
  • Internet Pornography
  • Child Pornography
Presidential Debates
  • Amount of money going into presidential campaigns
  • Views on abortion, same-sex marriage, and other controversial topics
  • Political debates throughout history
  • Third-party/unofficial party candidates at presidential debates
Prison Overpopulation
  • Building prisons vs. alternative sentencing
  • Adjusted sentencing for lesser crimes
  • Community service
  • Diversion Programs for inmates
  • Prostitution laws in the US and abroad
  • Benefits and drawbacks to legalizing prostitution
  • Psychological effect on prostitutes and former prostitutes
  • Sex slavery, buying and selling
Racial Discrimination
See also
"Affirmative Action"
  • Protection of victims vs. freedom of speech/rights of the accused
  • How to improve race relations
  • Racial p rofiling
See "Sexual Harassment" or "Family Violence"
  • Do harsher punishments mean fewer convictions?
  • Drugs-Rohypnol, GHB, Ketamine
  • Legalization of Date Rape Drugs
Religion in Politics
  • Rights of religious citizens vs. freedom from religion (e.g., prayer in schools)
  • Religious motivation for political involvement vs. cultural pluralism
  • Christian Right's influence on foreign policy
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
  • Media coverage--accurate, unbiased, over dramatized
  • World-wide epidemic vs. temporary regional health crisis
  • Economic impact
  • Role of health organizations--CDC (Center for Disease Control) & WHO (World Health Organization)
  • Hot spots and new contagious diseases
  • How contagious diseases "jump" from animal hosts to humans
Sex on Television
  • Limits for community good vs. freedom of speech
  • Does sex on television increase sexual behavior in teens?
  • Pornography or conversation?
  • Legal issues and minors/parents
Sexual Harassment
  • Protection of victims vs. freedom of speech/rights of the accused
  • Campus policies
  • NASA's future
  • International space station
  • Private citizen space flight
"Stand your ground" Law
  • Legal rights of the homeowner
  • "No duty to retreat"
  • Castle Doctrine
  • How to protect potential victims vs. freedom of movement
  • Rights of victims vs. rights of the accused
Student Loan Debt
  • Student loan scams
  • How to avoid student loan debt
  • Managing student loan debt
Surrogate Mothers
  • Helping infertile couples vs. ethical abuses
  • Progressive vs. flat tax
  • Excessive taxes vs. services and programs
  • World Trade Center and Pentagon bombings
  • September 11, 2001
  • Al-Qaeda
  • Taliban
  • Health issues
  • Technological advances
  • Cost
  • Instant Messaging: Short-hand
  • Public attitudes toward veterans
  • Health issues caused by service time
  • Organizations for veterans
  • Governmental support for veterans
Violence on Television
  • Limits for community good vs. freedom of speech
  • Link to agressive behavior
  • Graphic displays of violence in the media
  • Necessary safety net vs. creating dependency
  • State or Federal social services
  • Is there still a glass ceiling?
  • What obstacles do women face when running for political office?


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