The National Space Society is proud to present the second year of student policy debates! The International Space Development Conference (ISDC) 2019 in Arlington, VA will be the site of the spUN (Space Policy and Universalization) Debates. The spUN Debates are an exciting way for students to learn about and debate space policy and good governance as we approach the era of the successful settlement of space.

spUN Debates

Participating students will use 21st Century skills such as international collaboration, cooperation, creativity and critical thinking. NSS is sponsoring the event to inspire students to consider a future career that will be devoted to the NSS mission of space settlement.

The debate project was the brainchild of students and faculty processing a presentation on space policy and good governance given by Dr. L. J. Edmonds of Ohio University at ISDC 2017 in St Louis. “Space is often thought of as the final frontier. We want it to be the next frontier. So, if we are going to do that, what about the whole aspect of how we’re going to live and work together in this new construct where the world is part of a much larger space called the universe? This debate opportunity and what the ISDC has done through NSS has taken that bold step of bringing space policy into the domain of young adults. What we have done is to create that interest and energy, and I think the opportunity, to put it in the hands of our next generation as leaders. It is the thing to do because they are going to be the ones to help us resolve issues because it’s their world and they need to own this,” says Dr. Edmonds in response to the student debates.

L. J. Edmonds
Dr. L. J. Edmonds

The ISDC 2018 debates in Los Angeles were a tremendous success and gave students a unique opportunity to envision space policy and caught the attention of the NSS leadership. Debaters were between the ages of 10-16 and represented nine different nationalities (see photo at top of this post).

When asked about his thoughts on his experience in 2018, debater Theodore stated, “Most countries don’t even have a space program, only the major governments and some private space industries. There are barely any countries that have sustainable space programs and we need to change that. We want all countries to be able to have that international collaboration and that is going to bring us all together. It’s going to bring us all together for a common cause.”

Student debater Theodore
Student debater Theodore.

Alexa felt “We really need to explore space policy in depth if we want to go into space and live there and set up stations there. Figuring out a plan for living in space is something that is really important and something that is really impacting us right now.”

Student debater Alexa
Student debater Alexa.

Selected students for the 2019 spUN Debates will be preparing for the debates in their home country and working virtually online with the other international debaters on their team. They will then travel to the U.S., meet their team mates face-to face and make their final debate preparations. The debate rounds are open to registered attendees of ISDC 2019. The debate schedule will be posted on the ISDC 2019 webpage. Come and watch the future at work!

More information on the debate application process can be found at:

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