The Arthur N. Rupe Great Debate Series explores contemporary societal issues of national and international significance through the presentation of eminent figures who hold divergent viewpoints. “Let us bring the greatest minds of our time together at UCSB,” explains Arthur N. Rupe, “ and provide a forum to discuss and debate the nation’s and world’s vital questions. Let us seek out from around the globe eminent scholars in diverse fields, and challenge them and each other. Let us discuss relevant issues, grapple with the facts, and create inspiring dialogue.” The debate is structured as a roundtable discussion in which the moderator establishes a framework for the topic, poses questions to the panelists, and facilitates discussion among them. The moderator also invites members of the audience to ask questions of the panelists.

The Rupe Great Debate Series is presented by the UCSB College of Letters and Science. It is copresented by Arts and Lectures and the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center.

2016-17: Is ISIS an Existential Threat to the Unites States?
Monica Duffy Toft,  International Politics, Tufts University
Marc Gopin, Religion, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution, George Mason University
Moderator: Mark Juergensmeyer

Past debates include:

2014-15: The Use of Genetically Modified Organisms in Food
Dr. Angelika Hilbeck, Institute of Integrative Biology, ETH Zurich
Dr. Pamela C. Ronald, Plant Pathology, UC-Davis
Moderator: Paul Voosen, The Chronicle of Higher Education

2012-2013: Drone Warfare: Prospects and Dangers
David Cole, Law, Georgetown University
Mary Ellen O’Connell, Law, University of Notre Dame
Avery Plaw, Political Science, Dartmouth University
Moderator: Jeff Greenfield
Click here to watch a video of this debate.

2010-2011: Academic Freedom in a Time of Crisis
Stanley Fish, Humanities and Law at Florida International University
Cary Nelson, Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Illinois and President of the American Association of University Professors
Moderator: David Marshall, Dean of the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts
Click here to watch a video of this debate.

2007-2008: Torture and the Law: Can U.S. Officials Be Held Accountable?
Scott Horton, human rights law attorney
Stuart Taylor, contributing editor for Newsweek
Moderator: Lisa Hajjar Law & Society Program, UCSB
Click here to watch a video of this debate.

2006-2007: “Religion in American Politics – Too Much or Too Little?”
Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun
Michael Novak, director of social and political studies, American Enterprise Institute
Click here to watch a video of this debate.

2005-2006: “The American News Media: Liberal or Conservative Bias?”
Eric Alterman, media critic
Tucker Carlson, journalist
Moderator: Ronald E. Rice, Communications, UCSB
Click here to watch a video of this debate.

2003-2004: Iraq and the War on Terror: Were We Wrong?
William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard
Joseph Wilson, Ambassador to Iraq
Click here to watch a video of this debate.

2002-2003: “Should the U.S. Ban Human Cloning and Genetic Engineering?”
Dr. Gregory Stock, Director of the Program on Medicine, Technology, and Society UCLA School of Public Health
George J. Annas, Edward R. Utley Professor of Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights and Chair of the Health Law Department at the School of Public Health, Boston
Moderator: James B. Cooper, Associate Dean, Mathematical, Physical, and Life Sciences at UCSB
Click here to watch a video of this debate.

2001-2002: “The Conflict of Civilizations?”
Senator George J. Mitchell, former Chairman of the Peace Negotiations in Northern Ireland
Samuel P. Huntington, Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor, Harvard University
Moderator: Benjamin Cohen, Louis G. Lancaster Professor of International Political Economy, UCSB
Click here to watch a video of this debate.

2001-2002: “National Security vs. Personal Liberty”
Judge William Webster, former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency
Nadine Strossen, President of the American Civil Liberties Union and Professor of Law, New York Law School
Moderator: Daniel Linz, Communication, the Law and Society Program, UCSB

2000-2001: “The Impact of the Media on American Life”
Jeff Greenfield, CNN senior analyst and Emmy Award-winner
William Safire, Pulitzer Prize-winning commentator
Richard Rodriguez, Peabody Award-winning broadcast essayist for The Newshour with Jim Lehrer
Moderator: Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication, at the University of Pennsylvania

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