Research on the Chicago Debate program concluded that urban debaters report higher social conscience, social competence, and civic commitment than their peers (Anderson & Mezuk, 2012).
In Civic Connections: Urban Debate and Democracy in Action during Out-of-School Time, researcher Georgia Hall observed debaters meeting the democracy skill building for youth framework, including: finding a sense of social purpose and affiliation with society, seeing the connection between public political and private lives, understanding democracy and civic participation, support for authority and willingness to dissent, capacity for autonomous choices, respect for others and their groups, shared discourse tolerant of other opinions, skill building, leadership, and belief in their ability to make a difference. (Source)
A 2014 joint white paper from the Education Commission of the States and the NCLCE, Six Proven Practices for Effective Civic Learning, ranks Speech & Debate as a top extracurricular for boosting civic participation.
Most recently, Holly Korbey showcased debate and the potential of urban debate leagues in her book, Building Better Citizens. (Mind/Shift, 2019)
Research is currently being conducted by the University of Virginia’s EdPolicyWorks project to evaluate the effects of debate programs, ranging from Boston Debate League to debates in Rwanda, on students’ civic engagement. Find their paper at the Constructive Dialogue Institute.