Allow Students to Take Smart Drugs? A Live Debate at George Washington University

WASHINGTON, October 26, 2015—If you could take a pill that would help you study and get better grades, would you? The stress of competing for top grades has led to a rise in students’ off-label use of so-called “smart drugs” like Adderall, Ritalin, and modafinil. But is this a negative development? Is the use of smart drugs cheating? Should their use as cognitive enhancers be approved by the FDA, the medical community, and society at large?

On Monday, November 2, four renowned doctors and bioethicists will debate the motion “College students should be allowed to take smart drugs” at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The debate is the second in the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE’s) debate series, FIRE Debates, and it is co-sponsored and hosted by Intelligence Squared U.S. (IQ2US), the nation’s premier debate organization.

“I’m delighted to be partnering with Intelligence Squared U.S. for our second FIRE Debate this semester,” said FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff. “The efficacy and morality of the use of smart drugs is a hot topic right now, so we decided to bring together some of the nation’s brightest bioethicists to debate the issue on a big stage. Whether you agree or disagree with the motion, you are certain to come away with a better understanding of the opposing viewpoint.”

The debate will begin at 6 p.m. EST on November 2 in George Washington University’s Jack Morton Auditorium. The debate will also stream live online and on the IQ2US app, and air soon after as part of the syndicated public radio show and podcast, Intelligence Squared U.S.

WHAT: A debate on the motion “College Students Should Be Allowed to Take Smart Drugs
WHEN: Monday, November 2, 2015, Reception 5:00–5:45 p.m., Debate 6:00–7:30
WHERE: Jack Morton Auditorium at George Washington University (in the School of Media and Public Affairs), 805 21st St NW, Washington, DC 20052
TICKETS: $30 for the public. FREE for students and GW alumni (with valid ID). To purchase tickets, visit this link.

Dr. Anjan Chatterjee: Professor, University of Pennsylvania & Chair of Neurology, Pennsylvania Hospital
Nita Farahany: Professor, Duke University & Director, Duke Initiative for Science & Society

Dr. Eric Racine: Director, Neuroethics Research Unit, L’Institut de Recherches Cliniques de Montréal
Nicole Vincent: Associate Professor of Philosophy, Law, and Neuroscience, Georgia State University

John Donvan, author and ABC News correspondent, will moderate the debate.

FIRE Debates aim to promote critical thinking and free inquiry on campus by hosting four debates at colleges across the country during the 2015–16 academic year. FIRE’s first debate took place at Texas A&M University on October 20, 2015, where ESPN’s Jay Bilas and the NCAA’s Oliver Luck debated the motion “College athletes should be allowed to be paid.” The debate on November 2 is the first of two FIRE Debates that will be co-sponsored by Intelligence Squared U.S. this academic year.

FIRE is a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, freedom of expression, academic freedom, due process, and rights of conscience at our nation’s colleges and universities. FIRE’s efforts to preserve liberty on campuses across America can be viewed at

A nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, Intelligence Squared U.S. was founded in 2006 to restore civility, reasoned analysis, and constructive public discourse to today’s often biased media landscape. IQ2US reaches millions through multi-platform distribution, including radio, television, live streaming, podcasts, and interactive digital content. It is one of the top 25 most popular podcasts on iTunes, and has won the 2014 Clarion Award for Radio Regular Feature Program and three consecutive 2013–2015 New York Festivals International Radio Awards for Best Public Affairs Program. The debates have attracted some of the world’s top thinkers, including Malcolm Gladwell, Arianna Huffington, Paul Krugman, David Brooks, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Peter Thiel, and Karl Rove. With over 100 debates and counting, Intelligence Squared U.S. has encouraged the public to “think twice” on a wide range of provocative topics. Author and ABC News correspondent John Donvan has moderated IQ2US since 2008. The executive producer is Dana Wolfe.

Katie Barrows, Communications Coordinator, FIRE: 215-717-3473;