Balloon Debate


This project is a spin on an old favorite of debating societies: the balloon debate. In this format, each person is required to take on the defense of a chosen figure from history and defend their right to remain in an imaginary balloon which needs to jettison ballast. The person who remains after the rest have been voted out one-by-one is the winner.

The Project

Scenario: all of culture is to be destroyed, except for the one thing that is worth keeping. What is that one thing? Make a presentation to defend the choice. Trick answers which try to avoid the spirit of the project automatically fail. The ‘thing’ should be an artifact or a body of work, but not a land mass or a people.


This is a good way of understanding and articulating the idea of cultural value. The presentation will need to give clear reasons for the choice, from which a value system and set of critical judgments may be deduced. If done in a group situation, the subsequent voting can also be revealing of the collective set of shared values.