Students & Campus
10 October 2022

The Geneva Debate Is Back for a Second Round

On 18 October 2022, the Geneva Graduate Institute will hold its second Geneva Debate, where students will gather to not only debate some of the world’s looming challenges, but also to locate how these challenges are affecting our daily lives.

For the executive committee, represented by Ryan Mitra, President of the Geneva Debate, the event intends to remain true to its vision of being forward-thinking and elaborate in its preparations and argumentation.

In an interview, Ryan recollects the process of organising this edition of the debate, and what participants can expect. 

The motion for this year’s debate focuses on the stigmatisation of nuclear energy, specifically keeping in mind the context of the War in Ukraine, and consequent turbulence in energy geopolitics. What was the idea behind choosing this theme as the motion and what should the audience expect from the debate? 

When we were deliberating possible motions for the Geneva Debate this year, the aim was to capture the successes of the previous edition. Not only did the motion situate itself in the immediate environment of those watching the debate but also allowed for analysis of the implications in the future.

With the intention of remaining forward-thinking, we explored various scenarios that reflected our contemporary situations, here in international Geneva and beyond. We also wanted to capture the imagination of the audience that would potentially bear witness to the debate.

The question had to invoke a personal intrigue within the reader. Further down the deliberation process, we wanted to ensure it was an intersectional conversation; multiple disciplines converging and weaving at different nexuses of the argumentation.

Finally, seeing the situation in Ukraine, and the urgency around nuclear security sparked the question of, "how will this experience inform nuclear paradigms in the future, and how are past experiences informing the same in the present?"

Locating that nuclear energy has been repeatedly touted (by some) as a serious consideration for transitioning away from fossil fuels in the interest of tackling climate change, we knew this is what our debate was going to be about. We articulated the motion to cut across different vectors of time, and ensure they allowed for an interdisciplinary discourse. 

With the Geneva Debate now in its second year of conception, what is your vision for the initiative moving forward?

Moving forward, we want to keep our foot on the pedal. The structured debating culture at the Institute is nascent but eagerly developing. The long-term vision is to enter and organise inter-collegiate competitions. For now, we want to continue offering the Institute’s student body a platform to argue and debate on issues that matter to them. 

How do you think the debate on this year’s motion can contribute to the current public dialogue?

I think the debate is a valuable addition to the decades-longs discourse around nuclear energy. The motion will animate a very contemporary concern while positioning it in the contentious legacy of nuclear power around the world.

This isn’t simply a question of energy sources, and economic output, but of also regarding generational memories, social factors and fears that cut across different temporalities. It’s a question of the past: how do we recollect the memories of nuclear disasters? It’s a question of the future: how do we locate nuclear power in our drive for green-er and less harmful energy? And a question of the present: how has the War in Ukraine changed or not changed our perception of nuclear energy?

There is no way for us to predict what the debaters will have to say and what they will add to the larger dialogue. What I can say is, whatever they do say will be intriguing and insightful.

Learn more about the Geneva Debate