The Philodemic Society is Georgetown’s premier on-campus debating society. Founded in 1830, the Philodemic is among the oldest such societies in the United States and the oldest secular student organization at Georgetown.
The Society pursues “eloquence in the defense of liberty” by debating a variety of topics with a diverse range of perspectives. Each week, the society meets to debate questions that are centuries old as well as modern-day questions that nation or world are currently debating. All are welcome to watch, learn, and engage in the issues that are debated.
The Weekly Debates
The weekly debates are held every Thursday night on campus at 8:00 pm during the school year in the Philodemic Room, 208 Healy Hall, unless otherwise posted.
Philodemic Debates have a unique structure that allow for a dynamic and interactive debating experience for all who attend. Two keynote speeches are given at the start of each Debate, one in the affirmation and the other in the negation of the resolution. These are prepared speeches given by current or newly inducted members of the society for the purpose of laying the groundwork for the Debate and stimulating conversation.
After the Keynote Speeches are over and the president reads the house rules, the Debate is opened up to the floor. Quite literally, the Philodemic Room is divided in two—with the negation and the affirmation sitting on opposite sides of the room. Each side trades off speaking—with the President selecting who will speak for that side. Floor Speeches are relatively short and extemporaneous addresses that anyone attending is allowing to give. Little to no preparation is required or expected for these speeches. Preference is given to society members in order of seniority. After several rounds of floor speeches, the keynoters give their closing remarks, ending the Debate.
Even though the structured Debate ends with the closing keynote speeches, the discussion is far from over. The Philodemic Society is truly a society, which distinguishes us from other debating groups on collegiate campuses.
After each debate, the Society journeys to Martin’s Tavern on Wisconsin Avenue, to continue discussion, open new ones, and enjoy each other’s company. Some of the society’s most memorable moments occur in the warm and friendly atmosphere of Martin’s. New members and returning members alike are welcome to join.
Business attire is requested for debates. For more information, please refer to the “Dress Code” tab in the “About” section.