All of IDEA's activities ultimately revolve around the participation and education of students. IDEA aims to empower students to speak publicly and to analytically engage issues that are of importance to themselves and their communities. In the end, it is through students that IDEA seeks to instill respect for the values of free and open discussion.
As a means of achieving the goals discussed above, IDEA suggests that all speech and debate participants encourage students to cultivate the following practices:
Students should respect their peers.
In a democratic society, every individual is entitled to an equal and dignified voice. To this end, students should behave respectfully towards other students, not only outside of rounds, but also during competition. Within the structure of a particular speech and debate activity, students should observe appropriate conventions of turn-taking and cross-examination.
Likewise, students should refrain from undue aggressiveness, belittling commentary or name-calling, rudeness or nasty humor, and other inappropriate behavior. At all times, students should remain sensitive to, and be respectful of, cultural differences.
Overall, students should strive to promote a positive and supportive atmosphere for other students. Although a winner must eventually be declared and rankings made, students should view speech and debate not simply as a competition, but as a cooperative transaction in which all participants draw benefit from the experience, and engage one another with empathy.
Students should practice intellectual honesty.
Students exhibit intellectual dishonesty when they put forward arguments that are either misleading or that distort the truth. To the best of their abilities (and within the guidelines of the activity in which they are participating), students should present responsible arguments that are both logical and ethical, and should not misrepresent others.
Moreover, students should employ ethical research methods, citing arguments and statistics truthfully, reediting the thoughts of others wherever necessary, and never fabricating data.
Overall, students should always remember that the democratic values underlying speech and debate education are embodied in the earnest, fair, and ethical practice of argumentation.
Students should actively engage their communities, and should demonstrate civic virtue.
IDEA believes that the democratic values embodied in debate education are best exemplified through participation in community and civic efforts. When students draw upon the experiences they have gathered through debate, and "give back" to the community via volunteer and civic efforts, they are spreading the mission of IDEA within and among societies.
As much as possible, students should engage in volunteer efforts that benefit their community. Similarly, they should assist in the organization of events, and should play a role in the transfer of knowledge by coaching others, and by sharing their expertise in speech, debate and advocacy with those who may benefit from such skills and knowledge.