Every semester, the Penn State Speech & Debate Society holds one to three public debates. These events provide opportunities for dedicated members of the Speech & Debate Society to display the skills that they have been working on in front of a larger, public audience. At these debates, audience members have the ability to give speeches and question the points made by the debaters. Past debates have covered topics such as natural gas fracking, nuclear energy usage, the university’s undergraduate curriculum, and various economic issues. The purpose of these public debates is to deliberate thoughtfully on the topic at hand and to educate both the participants and the audience.
The Speech & Debate Society regularly invites other schools to participate in these events. The society annually hosts the British National Debate Team and maintains a cooperative relationship with other universities from the Mid-Atlantic region to attend these debates. The oldest of these traditions is with the William Pitt Debating Union; the Society will celebrate the 100th anniversary of their first debate with Pitt during the 2015 spring semester.