Sustainability Lesson 4 Panel Debate on Global Warming
Sustainability Lesson 4 Panel Debate on Global Warming

Time: 90 minutes
Skills: Cross-Cultural Communications and Holistic Thinking
Objective 2
Related Resources:  n/a

The panel debate is an additional option and it could be combined with the panel conclusion.

This activity was developed by the Piloter at Brockport.

Timing:            90 minutes

Topic:              Global Climate Change

Products:                Video and transcript of the debate

                                     Final written report of findings/conclusions

                                    Summary of panel

                                    Statement of the problem

                                    Tasks to be completed


Moderator:      Classroom Professor

Panelists:    John Blowhard, United States Senator

                        Sam Makecar, President of large auto maker

                        Al Gore, Nobel Prize winner

                        Dr. Holly Health, public health official

                        Al Gasser, CEO of large oil+gas company

                        Albert Spreadsheet, expert on climate change data

                        Boris Gromyko, President of Russia

                        Sara Code, climate modeler

                        John Levee, Mayor of New Orleans

                        JaneWindpower, head of alternative energy startup


Audience:   Elke Deutscher, citizen of Germany              

                        Boureima Diallo, citizen of Niger                  

                        Joe Helpless, citizen of the USA

                        Jimmie Sue Diesel, RV owner/fan

                        Firston Howelle, avid yachter and donor to the Sierra Club

                        Andy Roswell, conspiracy theorist and climate change denier

                        Amy Pandahugger, animal activist and member of WWF

                        Rev. Peter Earthlove, religious steward of the planet

                        Hank Sixpack, NASCAR fan

                        Ben Z. Beamer, drives a luxury SUV and assorted classic cars

                        Aysha Rayhan, citizen of Bangladesh

What is a panel discussion?:  Many issues (such as global climate change) are too complex for a single person to handle, so a team of experts is assembled to address the topic.  Having multiple speakers also introduces the possibility of multiple/conflicting perspectives on controversial issues.  Panel discussions are not team presentations, because there is no collaborative preparation or agreed-upon views.  It is somewhat like a debate, but does not follow the standard rules and procedures of competitive debate, and is not in fact a competition. 

 Format for Our Panel:

  1. Each panelist will make a 1 ½ to 2 minute presentation, including introduction, the reason(s) he/she is a panelist, and overall perspective on global climate change. (18 minutes)
  2. After each introductory presentation, the audience (or moderator) can ask a question, challenge an assertion, etc. – these remarks will be directed to the speaker who just finished
  3. After all 10 presentations, the audience (or moderator) will ask a series of “set” questions to the whole panel.  One or more panelists can answer the questions.  After each answer, the audience (or moderator) can pose follow up questions. 


  1. The panelists’ initial statements will be published in advance
  2. Many/most of the “set” questions will be available in advance
  3. Audience members can come in with unpublished questions (to use as rebuttals/challenges mainly)


  1. Character study and GCC position statement (all class members do this)
  2. Draft is due
  3. Final version due 1 week before debate
    1. Panelists initial statements
    2. Draft due 2 weeks before debate
    3. Final version due 1 week before debate for distribution to whole class
      1. Audience members submit 5 “set” questions each
      2. Due 2 ½  weeks before debate
      3. 10-15 will be selected for distribution to whole class
        1. Panelist should prepare answers for (some of) the “set” questions
          1. Focus on question that are apropos to the character
          2. Answer in character

Character Study Outline (everybody does one):

  1. Biographical information

NOTE that some characters are simply “citizens,” so you will need to develop a biography that takes into consideration the diversity with countries (like the factors below)

  1. home, birthplace, job, income level, religion, lifestyle, etc.
  2. your politics
  3. what is your country/state/area “like” (you may need to conduct some research, including to avoid generalization or stereotypes)
  4. education level (especially science)
  5. perhaps picture(s)
    1. Interest in global warming (50-75 words)
    2. position on the debate (250 words, carefully crafted)

EXAMPLE of panel discussion:

Post-Debate Reflection

Write a one-page reflection paper, comparing and contrasting the perspective of your character and another character who has some opinions that are diametrically-opposed to that of your character.  Write this comparison from the perspective of a student in our class, not as a character who participated as either a panelist or audience member.

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