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Civil Discourse Toolkit

A page within Center for Transformative Justice

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Civil Discourse Toolkit

We are taking a multifaceted approach to civil discourse. Check out the variety of opportunities at UWL:

  • The Discussion Project: a professional development opportunity for faculty and staff
  • Civil Discourse Program: a cross-campus collaboration aimed to engage students
  • Resources: a curated compilation of helpful tools and resources 
  • Joint Committee on Civil Discourse (JCCD): a committee established by administration to help campus understand free speech and promote discussion and dialogue. Learn more by clicking here.

What is The Discussion Project?

The Discussion Project, designed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is a professional learning course for higher education institutional leaders and instructors. It delivers research-based teaching strategies that positively impact the quality of education offered. You can learn more by clicking here.

Through learn-by-doing, this workshop will help participants structure and engage in meaningful discourse. From impactful classroom lessons to engaging dialogue at student organization meetings; productive and transformative discussion in higher education has endless possibilities. 

Bringing The Discussion Project to UWL has been a cross-collaborative effort, and we are grateful for the support of our partners in CATL, Student Affairs, and across D&I. We are confident that this workshop will enhance our facilitation skills and lead to more meaningful and open discourse on campus. We look forward to your participation and to the positive impact it will have on our campus community.

The Discussion Project Photos

What is the Civil Discourse Program?

The Civil Discourse Program, a cross-campus initiative, educates on Civil Discourse which can be defined as conversations in where there is a mutual airing of views in a respectful manner. Events hosted by the Civil Discourse Program Committee include panels with educated individuals and roundtable practice with trained facilitators. The goal is for students to learn and practice this important skill and carry it on to conversations in classes, among friends and family, and in their professional careers. 

 Committee Members 

  • Amanda Krafft, Program Coordinator for Civic Engagement & Leadership 
  • Maiya Nate, Leadership & Involvement Center Graduate Assistant 
  • Jacob Hart, Associate Director of Student Engagement & Leadership 
  • Justin Poley, Campus Vote Project Democracy Fellow 
  • Avery Britz-Brown, Student Association Local Affairs Director 
  • Anthony Chergosky, Faculty Representative 
  • Ashley Nowak, Director for the Center for Transformative Justice

Civil Discourse Program Logo

Civil Discourse Resources


  • Brookfield, Stephen D., and Stephen Preskill. Discussion as a Way of Teaching: Tools and Techniques for Democratic Classrooms. 2nd ed., Jossey-Bass, 2005. 
  • Brown, Stephen D. The Discussion Book: 50 Great Ways to Get People Talking. Jossey-Bass, 2016.
  • Hess, Diana. Controversy in the Classroom. Routledge, 2009.
  • Schmidt, Joe, and Nichelle Pinkney. Civil Discourse: Classroom Conversations for Stronger Communities. Corwin Teaching Essentials, 2022.



  • "Civil Discourse: A Book Discussion with Joe Schmidt & Nichelle Pinkney - Constitution Day 2023." Bill of Rights Institute, 2023,
  • Hess, Diana. "Ed-Talk: Political Education in Polarized Times." American Educational Research Association, 2016,
  • "The Nantucket Project: American Neighbor." The Nantucket Project,