High-level discourse about pressing social issues or a group of students being silly and meeting new people? Debate Spaces, a start-up that connects middle-schoolers and trains them to use debate as a civic engagement tool, does both. 

Currently run by Harvard graduate students and a team of pro-debaters, Debate Spaces operates under the mission of crafting and developing strategies to make the world a better place, through debate. Since its founding in 2017, Debate Spaces has impacted over 400 students from urban and suburban middle schools around the world.

Their flagship program is the Debate Spaces Academy, a series of once a month half-day workshops introducing students to diverse issues, ideas, and people. Students build their debate skills through games and debate rounds, hear from a large community of speakers,  and engage in meaningful discussions with their peers. 

Students learn the importance of understanding arguments made by the other side, a skill that seems doubly important in our polarized world. Debate Spaces emphasises an environment that acknowledges the positives of the opposing view and what it offers to discussions.

WeAreGenZ spoke to Co-Founder Tessa Holtzman and Program Director Sagie Tvizer about Debate Spaces’ pedagogical approach. Their ultimate vision is to foster community building where people from around the world can engage in empowering dialogue. Beyond traditional classroom debate skills, the Debate Spaces team teaches youth about self-empowerment and advocacy. “Young people hold a lot of power to enact change,” says Tessa. From this group of Gen Z’ers to their younger counterparts- you heard it here first!

Get involved with Debate Spaces by volunteering as a judge or recruiting students!

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