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September 11, 2013 / compassioninpolitics

What are systemic impacts in policy debate?

There are primarily two types of impacts in debate:

1) one time impacts or one shot impacts (generally based on a brink type scenario)

2) systemic impacts (racism, sexism, poverty, genocide, etc….)

Systemic impacts are there year after year. Theoretically they multiple each year.

Systemic impacts = Number of Years X Impact

Actually this equation should read:

Systemic impacts = Number of Years X Impact Accessed or “Solved”

Those are two different issues–the distinction is pretty important.

As you would guess, one time impacts tend to be specific, while systemic impacts tend to be more system-wide (in one sense cultural or system-wide).

Here are a snippet of my notes from Stephen Weils lecture on impact comparison from the Emory National Debate Institute:

Probability (probability of escalation–keep it conceptually separate)

a) Structural impacts (effects the likelihood more broadly) (US hegemony is probably one of these actually–partially due to lack of specificity) (general resource conflicts from warming)

b] Event based Impacts

c) Systemic Impacts (poverty, structural violence, human rights impact in Cuba, racism, sexism, etc..). Its definitely happening now–its built into the system. Poverty is 100%.

To me systemic impacts and structural impacts seem to intersect a great deal. In one sense most all our impacts are systemic or structural in one sense or another.

However, its important to have the cognitive tools to:
1) identify what is a systemic or structural impact versus an event based impact
2) impact that in terms of the impact comparison (in a meaningful and comparative way)


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