The Simpson College Speech & Debate program and Simpson’s John C. Culver Public Policy Center, in partnership with the State Historical Society of Iowa, will present “Iowa’s Great Debate: Modeling Civil Discourse in Polarized Times” from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 16, at the State Historical Building in Des Moines.
The event will showcase members of Simpson’s debate team, which has won six national titles in the last seven years. The debate will examine the question, “Does AI cause more harm or create more good?” In the spirit of Simpson’s historical connection to Abraham Lincoln, the academic-style debate reflects the intellectually deep engagement of a Lincoln-Douglas debate, but through a modernized academic format. (Simpson’s namesake, Bishop Matthew Simpson, was a close friend of Lincoln’s and delivered his eulogy.)
“In a time of rising hyper partisan, uncivil discord and debate in our country, Simpson students are leading the way in modeling what civil, thoughtful and respectful discourse looks like,” said Jay Byers, president of Simpson College. “This event reflects our commitment to develop highly informed, responsibly engaged leaders who can help change the tone and manner of our society in taking on tough issues.”
Audience interaction through a question-and-answer session will follow the live debate. The evening also features a pre-event reception from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., which includes the opportunity to visit the new Civics in Action exhibit at the State Historical Society of Iowa.
“The State Historical Society of Iowa is pleased to co-host Iowa’s Great Debate with Simpson College and its nationally recognized debate team,” said Leo Landis, state curator for the State Historical Society of Iowa. “As an advocate of understanding Iowa’s past, the State Historical Society of Iowa educates Iowans of all ages and encourages and supports education efforts throughout the state. Promoting thoughtful and respectful dialogue helps all Iowans reflect on issues, and the State Historical Society of Iowa is excited to be part of this educational and informational program."
Admission is free and open to the public. For planning purposes, please register for the event online.