Frequently Asked Questions

The Big Animal Research Debate FAQ

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About The Big Animal Research Debate

  1. What is the Big Animal Research Debate?
  2. Why debate this issue?
  3. Why debate this motion?
  4. Who will take part in each debate?
  5. Who is organising the Big Animal Research Debate?
  6. What can I do for the Big Animal Research Debate?
  7. What kind of debate can we hold?
  8. I am organising a debate, what do I do next?
  9. How will the debaters prepare for their speeches?
  10. How will the debates be conducted?
  11. Can I be part of the Big Animal Research Debate’s audience?
  12. Will I need to know anything about science, medicine or ethics to understand the debates?
  13. What is the history of the Big Animal Research Debate?

About the International Debate Education Association

  1. What is IDEA?
  2. Where does IDEA operate?
  3. What does IDEA UK do?
  4. How is IDEA UK funded?
  5. How can I find out more about IDEA? / Will IDEA provide training to my school or debate society?

About Understanding Animal Research (UAR)

  1. Who is UAR?
  2. What does UAR do?
  3. How is UAR involved in the Big Animal Research Debate?
  4. Who does UAR represent?
  5. How is UAR funded?
  6. How can I find out more about UAR? / Will UAR provide speakers for my school or debate society?

About the Big Animal Research Debate

1. What is the Big Animal Research Debate?
The Big Animal Research Debate brings together students from across the country to debate a single topic: “This House would ban all forms of animal research.”

University debating societies, schools and further education colleges will organise debates on this motion. The debates will take place from the 6th March. Many of these debates will be streamed online and made available via this website. All of the events that make up the Big Animal Research Debate will end with a vote on whether or the motion should be supported or opposed; the results of these polls will also be posted online.2white-rat-in-white-gloved-hands.jpg

2. Why debate this issue?
Debating is a method of presenting arguments, ideas and opinions on a range of different subjects. Debates are based on a single idea or proposal that matched teams of debaters will try to convince an audience to agree or disagree with. To do this, debaters present reasons and evidence to support the side of the debate they are arguing for, and use rhetoric, pathos and humour to make their speeches more persuasive.

Debate is part of democratic systems of government. Deliberative bodies such as parliaments and legislative assemblies engage in discussions about the values, policies and laws that their members want to support or oppose. In many countries, high school and university students take part in competitive debates. When they speak competitively, students do not represent their own views. In most competitive debates, speakers are not given a choice about which side of the motion they will support.

Debating allows a variety of opinions and perspectives to be presented and challenged. The Big Animal Research Debate aims to lay out the best arguments for and against banning animal research in order that those watching it, in the audience or through live stream from their computer, have the information necessary to make up their own minds.

3. Who will take part in each debate?
The Big Animal Research Debate will involve contributions from a mix of university debating societies’ members- postgraduates and undergraduates- and invited guests who are involved in the wider debate about animal rights and animal testing, as well as students at schools and colleges.

The students speaking in each university debate will typically be experienced competitive debaters and public speakers. Many debaters in UK and continental universities develop their public speaking skills by attending weekly training sessions and by competing against other universities in large inter-varsity tournaments. During inter-varsity tournaments, students receive feedback and coaching from senior debaters and other competitors.

The audience for each debate event will be made up of other students and members of the public. Audience members will be given a chance to contribute to the debate and interact with each events’ speakers during question and answer sessions.

4. Why debate this motion?
The Big Animal Research Debate was run in 2013 on the motion "This House would ban all forms of animal research" this motion was agreed at the time between interested parties as being a debate that would not be on particular types of testing which would make the debate far more difficult for those who are not already familiar with animal testing to understand. In 2017 we are repeating the same motion because we want to be able to see the change that has taken place over the last four and a half years. The audience votes at the end of the debates will give an idea as to whether there has been a shift in attitudes and if so in what way.

5. Who is organising the Big Animal Research Debate?
The Big Animal Research Debate has been planned and promoted by the iDebate (IDEA), an educational charity, and Understanding Animal Research (UAR), a not-for-profit organisation. iDebate and UAR are working in partnership to create educational resources for the Big Animal Research Debate, to coordinate the activities of the universities involved in the event and to run this website. To find out more about UAR, click here. For more information about iDebate, click here.

6. What can I do for the Big Animal Research Debate?

Individual:

As an individual you can potentially take part in a debate being organised by someone else. We have a form that you can fill in if you want to be a speaker. We particularly encourage you to do so if you are an expert, or passionate about the debate on either side. We will also be looking for debaters to help out with debates that are organised by societies that are not experienced in debate.

You can find the form at http://www.animalresearchdebate.org/speaker

Even if you don’t want to speak keep an eye on the website for debates you can attend to be a part of the audience

Society or organisation:

We are looking for societies and groups to host and organise debates on the issue. You could be a school, a university club, an individual class, a youth group, or any other kind of organisation if you have some interest in debate or animal research we encourage you to take part.

We have a sign up form at http://www.animalresearchdebate.org/organise-debate

7. What kind of debate can we hold?

We are interested in you holding debates with an audience. However how you do this is up to you. Your options are:

A small debate in your own group: The audience would be your class, society members, or friends. The debaters would be members of your own group.

A public debate with your own debaters: members of your own society or class would do the debating but the debate would be open to all to attend (or possibly limited to just your school or university). You might want to work with other groups in your school or university; if you are a science related society reach out to any society that is public speaking related (MUN/Debate/toastmasters etc.) or to those that are likely to be on the other side (animal welfare/rights/conservation/vegetarian societies).

A public debate with outside speakers: Inviting some speakers is the most work. You will want to find someone from each side so that both side’s views are put across equally. IDEA UK and UAR can help you with this, make sure you contact us if that is what you are doing. You may want to do variations on this, perhaps having the experts teamed with a student. Or if you can only find one expert perhaps invite them to give a talk after a student debate (so they won’t influence the outcome of the debate and vote).

8. So I am organising a debate, what do I do next?

First have you filled in the form? If not, then do so: http://www.animalresearchdebate.org/organise-debate

Next set a date, and tell us when and where it will be so we can add it to ww.animalresearchdebate.org as an event that is taking place.

Finally make sure you tell us what help you want from IDEA UK or UAR; do you need help about how to run a debate? A training session? Or help finding some experts? Email contact@animalresearchdebate.org with what you are looking for and we will make sure the request goes to the right organisation and staff member.

After that it is all about organising the details to make sure your debate is a success!

9. How will debaters prepare for their speeches?
While many debating societies will be inviting experts in their field to discuss the subject of animal experimentation, the majority of student speakers will not be experts on the subject. Student debaters spend a great deal of time researching debates that they are invited to take part in. The ability to quickly read up on new subjects and identify key controversies is seen as one of the key skills of debating.

Each debate’s guests will typically have some level of professional involvement in the subject of animal research or animal rights. They may be scientists or philosophers who have contributed extensively to the public debate on this issue that take place in newspapers, in academic journals and in magazine articles. Details of publications or previous public appearances by each debate’s guest speakers can be found in the debate’s profile on this website (see the Events page).

10. How will the debates be conducted?
To ensure that debates remain fair and unbiased and that everyone involved in a debate has an equal opportunity to explain their position on a motion, debate events’ are controlled by sets of rules. These rules explain the roles that individual speakers should fulfil, the order they will speak in, the time limits applied to speeches and the codes of conduct speakers are expected to abide by. The rules that run a debate are collectively known as a format.

Most of the debating events that make up the Big Animal Research Debate will use the British Parliamentary debating format. Some events may use slightly different formats. All of the different rule sets used for Big Animal Research Debate events (including British Parliamentary) are explained in our resources section, which can be found at animalresearchdebate.org/content/resources

11. Can I be part of the Big Animal Research Debate’s audience?
Students at the universities taking part in the Big Animal Research Debate can get involved in the event by contacting their universities debating society directly. Each debating society is profiled on our events page, and each profile has a link to the society’s own web page. Students who are having trouble contacting a debate society should get in touch with their university’s students’ union.

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Members of the public who would like to attend a Big Animal Research Debate event are advised to check with the university they want to visit well before the date of the debate they want to watch. Some university’s debates will only be open to students, others may require audience members to apply for tickets. To avoid disappointment, get in touch with the debating society of the university you would like to visit, via the Events page, as soon as possible.

12. Will I need to know anything about science, medicine or ethics to understand the debates?
No. Contrary to popular belief, debating is not based on showmanship, trading insults or being a know-it-all. The objective of all debates is to educate.

Universities stage debates in order to introduce new and controversial ideas to their students and to the public in an open, accessible and accountable way. Trained debaters take part in competitions in order to build on their skills as public speakers and understand different perspectives on contentious issues.

All of the speeches in the debates streamed through the Big Animal Research Debate website will have been drafted to ensure that a large and diverse public audience understands the issues and choices being discussed, and gain enough knowledge to join the debate themselves.

If you want to read up on animal research, take a look at our resources section. 

13. What is the history of the Big Animal Research Debate?

The Big Animal Research Debate ran during National Biology Week in October 2013. The focus was on University Debating Societies with thirty-five taking part. The debates were overwhelmingly in favour of banning animal research. See the votes on the results page. This time around we are interested in seeing what, if any, change there has been since 2013 and in widening participation to schools and colleges.

About the iDebate

1. What is iDebate?
iDebate or the International Debate Education Association (IDEA) is a global network of organisations who believe that debate promotes mutual understanding between individuals and communities and informed citizenship around the world.

iDebate is a global provider of debate education, creating and managing content and training for thousands of educators and young people every year. iDebate’s website, idebate.org is the web’s most popular debating resource. iDebate continues to find new ways to bring debaters’ together to compete and share ideas by working to integrate social networking and online debating through online and social media platforms such as Google Hangouts.

2. Where does IDEA operate?
iDebate has offices in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Macedonia, Tunisia, and Kyrgyzstan. iDebate also has a network of partner organisations throughout Europe, which it collaborates with to arrange debate trainings and public debating events.

3. What does IDEA UK do?
iDebate’s UK office works with young people from diverse backgrounds throughout the United Kingdom, using debate to broaden their skills, increase their confidence and to enable them to make lasting contributions to their communities.

iDebate works in schools, colleges and in informal education settings to organise public debates and to deliver training in public speaking, argumentation and critical thinking to young people, teachers and youth workers alike.

IDEA UK also collaborates with university debating societies, journalists, activists and NGO across the world to run public events and debate competitions that address important social, cultural and political issues.

4. How is iDebate funded in the UK?
The International Debate Education Association is a registered charity in the UK number 1139452. It receives its funding from other charities and NGOs, and from state and European-level organisations, and from individual donations.

5. How can I find out more about iDebate?
Will IDEA provide training to my school or debating society?
You can find out more about IDEA via our main website, http://idebate.org. iDebate mostly does not provide training on an ad hoc basis although we may be able to if running a debate. We do however have a programme for schools and colleges called the World Debate Club where we run a club once a week throughout the autumn and spring terms which provides training in key life skills such as public speaking, critical thinking and active listening.

About Understanding Animal Research

1. Who is UAR?
Understanding Animal Research (UAR) is a not for profit organisation based London. UAR aims to achieve broad understanding and acceptance of the humane use of animals in biomedical research in the UK, to advance science and medicine.

UAR’s website aims to provide clear, scientific facts on the role in which animals play in medical research.2black-mouse-trio-in-cage.jpg

2. What does UAR do?
UAR provides information to the public, journalists and policy makers about the role of animals in medical research. Our website provides a wealth of scientific information about how and why animals are used in research. It also provides pictures and video footage which aims to help the public understand what goes on in British laboratories.

UAR provide speakers for schools, usually scientists who volunteer their time to explain why they use animals in their own research.

3. What is UAR’s view on cosmetic research?
UAR supports the ban on cosmetic testing on animals which was implemented in 1998.

4. How is UAR funded?
UAR is a not for profit organisation and is funded by over 110 member organisations. This includes universities, medical colleges, pharmaceuticals, learned societies and charities. Most of our members are either involved in carrying out animal research, or represent the views of scientists who do. A full list of members can be found on the website, http://www.understandinganimalresearch.org.uk/about-us/membership-and-funding.

5. How can I find out more about UAR?
Will UAR provide speakers for my school or debate society?
You can find out more about UAR via our website, http://www.understandinganimalresearch.org.uk. UAR coordinate a group of researchers who volunteer their time to speak in schools. We are also able to help debate societies find suitable speakers for their events.