As the Great American Think-Off committee gathered to select a question for the 30th annual debate competition, the group discussed the fact that a question about the environment had never been posed, and felt this year was the right time. Additionally, given the current state of the U.S. and world economies, it was decided to compare the two.

Many people likely believe that both the environment and the economy are important to protect – but for this philosophical contest, you must choose a side. Entrants should take a strong stand, basing their arguments on personal experience and observations rather than philosophical abstraction. For 30 years we have used civil discourse as a tool to publicly explore ideas and creative solutions, and we want to hear from you to help us continue this important tradition. Submit an essay of 750 words or less by April 1 for your chance to win $500 and a chance to argue your position in front of a live audience in June.


Not a writer, or can’t choose a side? Come join us in the audience and help pick the winner instead! All are welcome to attend the great debate on Saturday, June 10, 2023, and cast your vote to help determine the answer to this year’s question and name “America’s Greatest Thinker” for 2023.

Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door; students $5. Become a supporting member of the Cultural Center for as little as $30 for an annual membership and receive a FREE ticket to attend the Think-Off!

To purchase tickets, click this button: Think-Off Tickets, or call the Cultural Center at 218-385-3339.

To learn more about the Think-Off…

Click here for the past 29 years of Think-Off questions

Click here to learn more about the Think-Off

Click here to see past media coverage of the Think-Off

Click here to see a documentary created by Nik Nerburn in 2018 about the Great American Think-Off


Submit your essay!


Questions? Call the Cultural Center at 218-385-3339 or email us at

These activities are made possible in part by the voters of Minnesota through an operating support grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.