Topic outline

  • 2023 NSS University spUN Debate Program

    NSS presents the 2023 University spUN Debate Program, inviting university students worldwide to join a debate team. This is a 100% virtual opportunity!

  • About the 2023 University spUN Debates

    National Space Society hosts the 2023 University spUN Debates!

    (Updated 3/21/23)

    Author:  Frances Dellutri,  NSS Dir. of Education, spUN Debate Program Manager

       Jordan Strudwick, NSS University spUN Debates Program Manager



     Julien of Howard University, a 2023 University spUN Debater            The 2023  University spUN (space policy and UNiversalization) Debates will mark the second year of the university level debates.  
    The  2023 spUN Debate Program is 100% virtual and brings together teams of 3 debaters (university age)  from all around  the world  to investigate and present the pros and cons of a resolution while learning to value  different perspectives,  cultures, and languages.

     The format is based on the Worlds School Debate Format and teams debate in a double-elimination program with the final debate live-streamed from the National Space Society (NSS) International Space Development Conference from Frisco (outside Dallas), Texas, USA on Saturday, May 27, 2023.

    spUN University Applicants must be enrolled in a university/college during January - May, 2023.

    More information will be available on this website. To find out a bit about universalization and its connection to debating space policy take a look at the 3 minute video below:

  • The 2023 University spUN Debate Program Schedule

    2023 University spUN  Debate Schedule:     ALL VIRTUAL

    Nov. 01, 2022: 2023 University spUN  Application Window Opens

    March 21, 2023: Final team selections

    March 6, 2023: University teams begin working with coaches.

    April 1 or 8, 2023:  (Tentative) Mentor session for debate prep

    May 13, 14, 20, 2023:  Preliminary 2023 spUN Debate Rounds - Double Elimination

    May 27, 2023:  Final Univ spUN Debate - streamed to the NSS International Space Development Conference:

  • Resolution and Information on the 2023 Resolution

    2023 University spUN Resolution:

    Government funding of astronomical and planetary space science projects that support human survival on the Earth should be prioritized.

    Consideration of important words found in the resolution are:

    Earth -- The earth can be defined as the immediate planetary body without its atmosphere or inclusion of the atmosphere up to 100km, which is what the U.S. military defines it.

    Humanity's Survivability-- this could be defined as  "the continuation of the human species", or it could be defined as "the continuation of a modern civilization", or a more liberal definition might be "the ability to live in decent life with food, clothing, shelter, and medical care." 

     Astronomical and  Planetary  -- from astronomy and planet; this could be defined as a phrase that indicates "any projects whose objective is exploration of any object in space other than the earth". 

    Universalization -- the next phase of human development, marking the transition from nation states to a single world view of humanity where all individuals are treated fairly without regard to nation of origin, race, sexual orientation, and physical or mental ability.

    Please see attached videos for more information on the concept of Universalization. A reference and connection to universalization in the debate arguments and in the team activities will be part of the debate assessment during the tournament.

    It will be important for the affirmative team to clearly indicate the types of projects they would like to defund or reduce funding and the type of projects they want to prioritize. This should be in their affirmative plan. 

    The affirmative team has the "burden of proof" to establish why the resolution is necessary. Take a case on space debris, for example. The affirmative team can make arguments to establish that space debris could result in a Kessler effect, make lower earth orbit unusable, and then explain how this impacts humanity's survivability. But then the affirmative must explain how their re-prioritizing of projects will solve this problem. Are there enough funds in other projects to create a proper program to combat space debris? Exactly which projects will be eliminated to do this; all projects? 

  • More About Universalization?

    The spUN Debates began in 2017 at the National Space Society's International Space Development Conference in St. Louis, MO, USA.  Dr. LJ Edmonds gave a presentation to international students on the topic of universalization, a concept for cooperation and living that will greatly impact space development.  Several students and a teacher engaged in an animated discussion of the impacts universalization could have on space settlement but also on how we successfully and harmoniously move forward in Earthly policies and interactions!

    Here are some videos that resulted from the subsequent spUN Debate Tournaments (pre-COVID-19) in 2018 and 2019. The first video is an overview of the 2018 H.S. debates...

    Please take a moment to see the impact the study of the universalization concept made on the student debaters.  

    ...and the second video talks about the practicalities of space living and governing and, how to buy chocolate in space! 

    The next video is from a podcast in which Dr. Lorna Jean Edmonds was interviewed by Starcast about the universalization concept.  This concept isDr. Lorna Jean Edmonds very important in our debates, both to see the concept in the  debate arguments, and also as a guide in the  conduct of everyone in the NSS spUN Debate Organization.

    We hope these resources will you help you to frame the future of our world!

  • 2023 University Application for spUN Debates

    The completed application must be submitted by Mar 21, 2023

    A couple of notes about the application:

    1. Be sure to put your first and last name in the appropriate fields.  This will expedite our paperwork  and guide us correctly with documentation of your participation.  

    2. Your confirmation message will direct you to the link for the payment of the $15 application fee/applicant, also due on  Mar.21, 2023.  

    3. When paying your fee, please be sure to add the debaters name that corresponds to the fee payment in the 'Comments' section of the payment page.  This will insure that we can account for your payment correctly.

    The 2023 spUN Univ Debate Fee can be purchased from the NSS Store:

    4. The announcement regarding selections for the debate teams is expected around March 5, 2023 and will go to your personal email as indicated in your application.


    The link to the spUN 2023 application:

    If you would like to apply for a Fee Waiver:

    For further questions kindly contact us at: 

  • University spUN Debate Coaches Needed!



    The National Space Society's SpacEdge Education Team  is seeking experienced debate coaches who are interested to work on the SpUN Virtual Debates 2023.  Coaches work virtually with students from around the world to prepare for space policy debates. (Commitment is from March. - May, 2023).

    This is a great opportunity for you to add to your resume and to help students from around the world articulate ideas and consider STEAM careers ! 

    The TASK:  coaches work virtually (at least once a week) with diverse teams to prepare/consult with them for the May, 2023 tournament. The 2023 Resolution is:   


    Government funding of astronomical and planetary space projects should be prioritized to support humanity's survivability on Earth.

    Coaches will refine strategies for research, cases, rebuttals, teamwork, presentation style, speed (NO SPREADING).
    Dates: The University debater applications close on March 21, 2023.    The debate season spans April- May, 2023.

    Coach Applications are open until March 21, 2023.
    What’s in it for you?:  In addition to helping debate become an international skill, coaches would receive:
    • $500.00 compensation for the 2023 spUN Debate Season 
    • A 1- year full year membership to the National Space Society
    • Certificate of international coaching participation suitable for Professional Development or for your professional file

      students compete from around the world, so finding times /platforms for communication can be challenging. (Meeting times are up to  the debate coach/debaters to determine.)

    To be considered for a spUN Coaching spot, please complete: 

                                             spUN Coaches Application

    If you have questions about being a part of this amazing opportunity, please contact :

                    Frances Dellutri ( .

  • 2023 spUN Debate Rulebook

    The 2023 spUN Debate Program is pleased to present the spUN Debate Program Rulebook. 

    The spUN Rulebook outlines such topics as:

    Debater Code of Conduct

    Qualifications and Eligibility to be considered for the spUN Debate Program

    Requirements and Expectations for the Program

    Practice Tournament and Program Tournament Organization

    Debate Format and Adjudication Information

    Challenges and Penalties During the Tournament

    We encourage coaches, debaters, and judges to become acquainted with the Rulebook.