Imagine a World – Impacts and Effects


This activity serves as a dynamic tool for guiding students to analyze and compare the significance of contrasting impacts and effects, and compels students to argue persuasively from multiple angles. Debaters need to learn how to assess and weigh complex scenarios. Through their assessment, student will consider people affected, the severity of harm present, probabilities of occurrence, and ethical considerations. By honing their capacity to craft tangible, specific, and compelling arguments, debaters not only enhance their critical thinking and communication skills, but they also gain a deeper understanding of the intricate nuances that underlie multifaceted issues. 


This activity can be used as a classroom practice activity with sample topics below, or can be a competition classroom activity when students are brainstorming or practicing for a tournament. 

Learning Outcomes

  1. Evaluate and Compare Impacts: Assess and contrast impacts considering factors like severity, likelihood, and ethics, to determine relative significance.
  2. Craft Adaptable Arguments: Construct flexible arguments by advocating for opposing impacts, showcasing versatility in presentation.
  3. Apply Ethical Analysis: Engage in nuanced discussions by considering moral implications and broader consequences of impact scenarios.


  1. Tell students that you’re going to to an activity to practice impacts in arguments. They will receive a topic and will need to talk about what the world looks like when changed by that topic.
  2. Divide the participants into pairs or small groups, ensuring each group has an even number of participants. 
  3. Present the pair (or group) with an impact or effect. Example “impacts” and “effects” can be found below. 
  4. As students are brainstorming, encourage them to consider the following:
    1. Number of People Affected: Consider how many individuals are impacted by each scenario. Evaluate the scale of impact in terms of a wider audience.
    2. Significance of Harm: Assess the severity and consequences of the harm caused by each impact.
    3. Probability – Risk: Analyze the likelihood of each impact occurring and how that affects its overall importance.
    4. Ethics – Morality: Explore the ethical implications of each impact and whether certain actions are morally justifiable.
    5. Personal vs. Collective Impact: Consider whether the impact affects individuals personally or has broader societal implications.
  5. Set a time limit and have students present their speeches that explicate the impact or effect. This can be done as a small group exercise, or you can have students present in front of the classroom. Some questions to consider:
    1. Did the speaker allow the audience to visualize what would happen? 
    2. Did the impact or effect scenario come across as significant? 
    3. Was the scenario tangible? Or did the scenario come across as too far-fetched?
  6. Have students provide feedback to the speakers and share how they could strengthen their impact or effect scenarios to better persuade a judge or audience. 

Impact Topics

Fun Topics:

  • Going on a spontaneous road trip vs. taking a relaxing staycation
  • Playing video games for an entire day vs. spending the day outdoors
  • Having a pet dog vs. having a pet cat
  • Eating pizza for every meal for a week vs. eating only vegetables for a week
  • Attending a music festival vs. going to a comedy show
  • Living in a bustling city vs. living in a quiet countryside
  • Spending a day at an amusement park vs. spending a day at the beach
  • Watching a movie in a cinema vs. watching a movie at home
  • Traveling back in time to the past vs. traveling to the future
  • Reading a physical book vs. reading an e-book

Advanced Topics:

  • Genetic engineering for human enhancement vs. ethical concerns about altering nature
  • Artificial intelligence advancements vs. potential loss of jobs due to automation
  • Universal basic income as a solution to poverty vs. economic incentives for job creation
  • Government surveillance for national security vs. violation of individual privacy rights
  • Rapid urbanization for economic growth vs. environmental sustainability challenges
  • Cultural preservation through globalization vs. the risk of cultural homogenization
  • Advancements in virtual reality for education and entertainment vs. concerns about addiction and isolation
  • Development of autonomous vehicles for safer roads vs. potential job displacement for professional drivers


*If students are comparing and weighing effects, have one student (or group) address the positive effects and the other student (or group) address the negative effects.  

  • Invention of a cure for a major disease
  • Cybersecurity breach leading to data theft
  • Introduction of a universal basic income
  • A breakthrough in renewable energy technology
  • Adoption of a single-use plastic ban
  • Discovery of an Earth-like exoplanet
  • Implementation of a nationwide high-speed rail system
  • Discovery of a new species in the Amazon rainforest
  • Establishment of a colony on Mars
  • Elimination of a significant global disease (e.g., malaria)
  • Creation of an AI-driven art masterpiece
  • Implementation of a carbon tax to combat climate change
  • Successful negotiation of a long-standing international conflict
  • Eradication of a widespread invasive species
  • Adoption of a fully automated public transportation system
  • Discovery of evidence of extraterrestrial life
  • Implementation of a global ban on non-reusable packaging

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