“Being a part of the COMPA debate team was a great experience for me. As a debate team member, I was able to practice my impromptu speaking, strengthen my critical thinking, work on my communication skills and it forced me to think on my feet. At the conference, I was able to network with a range of people from graduate students to actual practitioners in the field. Overall, I believe that attending the conference assisted me in my continuous effort to gain more professional development, network with other people in the field and learn more about innovative practices in the public administration field.”

-ErikaSherin, Former Graduate Student
North Carolina Central University

2017 Debate Topics:

Education, Infrastructure, Ethics and Civility, Economics, Crime, Policing, Politics, Taxes, Health Care, Military Inventions, Veteran Affairs. Race Relations, Science and Technology.

Note:  Debate questions will not be disclosed prior to the debate event.


  • Contestants must be currently enrolled in Public Affairs, Public Policy, Public Administration or related program or recent graduate of no more than one academic year.
  • Complete and submit an application
  • Register for the conference
  • Current membership in ASPA and/or COMPA

Selection of Debate Teams

Debate participants must complete and submit an application. Debate participants will be randomly assigned to teams. Upon receipt of a completed application, an information packet which include the debate rules, prep information and a pre-briefing schedule will be emailed to applicants .

INSTRUCTIONS: Submit application by email to: francesliddell@bellsouth.net

Students can participate at this event free of charge or at a reduced rate by volunteering to work a minimum of four consecutive hours on a single day (minimum of 16 hours or the equivalent of four shifts) from March 15-22, 2017.

Volunteer applications can be completed online at ASPA’s conference volunteer website.

Students will be afforded the opportunity to engage in networking with other public service professionals, participate in the conference and the policy debate.  Additionally, this experience can be included on resumes as a professional development activity. For more information about volunteering students should contact Patricia Yearwood at pyearwood@aspanet.org.

For information about the 2017 Annual Conference please visit the ASPA Conference Website.

Dr. L. Frances P. Liddell Student Policy Debate

The American Society for Public Administration’s (ASPA) and The Conference of Minority Public Administrators (COMPA) is hosting the adjudicated competitive “Dr. L . Frances P. Liddell Student Policy Debate,” on Thursday March 16, 2017 at 4:00pm – 5:30pm ASPA’s & COMPA’s 2017 Annual Conference at the at the Sheraton Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia.

This policy debate will afford young professionals, undergraduate and graduate students in Public Administration, Public Policy, Public Affairs and related programs an opportunity to present and defend positions on current public policy issues. Participants will have the opportunity to enhance communications skills including manner of delivery and persuasion. Specifically, this activity serves to assist in embracing those attributes and qualities desired of future public administrators–speaking competently and with confidence on public policy issues. All participants will receive a certificate of participation. The winning team will be awarded a plaque and receive a certificate of participation. The winning team will be recognized during the ASPA and COMPA Awards Ceremonies.