In the name of controversy. The AEGEEDebate story continues

It has been over a year since AEGEEDebate was introduced to the AEGEEan. Recently, a very relevant debate was published, in cooperation with Yvote, on the differences between national rules on participation in the European elections. This made us wonder how the project has developed over the last year and what the future holds, according to one of the initiators of the project: Ivan Bielik (AEGEE-Brno). 

European Presidential Debate 2014

What AEGEEDebate is

Ivan says that “the initiative started at the beginning of 2013. So far, there have been 12 online debates on various topics related to society, the EU, politics or AEGEE. There were experiments with the video debates recently, but because of some technical problems the text-based debates prevail. This year the website also got a Visual Identity template. So the AEGEEDebate initiative has got its own pace right now. People are slowly starting to recognize it and the format. One aspect that is still underdeveloped however, is the cooperation with other thematic bodies of AEGEE-Europe. This platform for debate has the ability to partly overcome the much discussed “lack of cooperation” on European level of AEGEE-Europe.”

The reason behind the creation of the platform

Ivan believes that there are a few definite answers in the world and thus we need to talk and argue about the phenomena that are not definite. “Our social reality is full of such indefinite answers. At Agora, when the prytania is dealing with for example removing nationalities from CIA or establishing regional structure of AEGEE (just to mention first two that crossed my mind), the arguments for or against do not possess a value true/false, but strong/weak. Therefore they offer the space for debate and controversy. The same applies when we talk about problems in society (elections, populism, immigration or war). So the reason for the existence of AEGEEDebate is to provide an online-space for controversial debates. In this way, the debate in AEGEE won’t be restricted and only open to Agora attendees, but provided to a broader audience.”

Benefits of AEGEEDebate

Ivan is convinced that the debate brings three basic benefits for AEGEE. “First, the debate is informative. You get information and knowledge when you listen or read the debate. Thus, you can learn new points of view and perspectives to the problem. Second, the debate develops your skills. I will divide them into two categories – quality of argumentation and ethics of argumentation. The quality of argumentation means that those who debate regularly are able to express their opinion in a brief and structured way that is to the point. Moreover, their arguments satisfy the logical requirements and are reasonable without fallacies (logical mistakes). The ethics of argumentation covers such values as tolerance and respect to different opinions. These values lead debaters into critical thinking about the ideas they heard or had in mind. Last, but not least, is the promotion of citizenship. This abstract concept covers the area of participation and education. Debating makes you engage in fields you care about. Whether it is in your local city, AEGEE or university, debate skills enable you to participate in decision-making and help to raise your self-confidence. Citizenship is also about recognizing between the facts and the feelings, between populism and reasonable arguments. All this is achieved by debating. All in all, as you can see, debating brings more good than harm.”

Involvement of participants

Last month Ivan realized that only organizing debates online does not contribute much to the above mentioned benefits. “That was a decisive moment to launch a new function of AEGEEDebate. From now on, you can find on the website the sub-page Resources that will be regularly updated with material to increase your knowledge about the debate. You can find out how to recognize arguments, what is a debate case or find some other debate portals to learn even more. By this, I believe I can fill the empty space on the website to provide information and basic materials for the development of your skills.

I would say an obvious statement that you can infer even from the text alone. Debate is important for any individual or organization. We need to face controversial issues and debate about them. AEGEEDebate tries to achieve this goal by online means.”

If you have any suggestion for the initiative or you are willing to help with it (PR, design, website or anything else) you can contact the AEGEEDebate team by email at, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Written by Ivan Bielik, AEGEE-Brno and Wieke van der Kroef, AEGEE-Leuven/Amsterdam