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Resources for Civil Discourse
The links on this page are about fostering dialogue in groups such as classrooms, clubs, or meetings. As Facing History and Ourselves explains, "Engaging in civil discourse means bringing your mind, heart, and conscience to reflective conversations on topics that matter, in ways that allow you to extend your understanding in dialogue with others."
For more about filter bubbles and considering bias when selecting and consuming media, visit MCC library's Evaluating Information page.
Websites About Civil Discourse
Ask Big Questions
A project of Hillel International, Ask Big Questions helps colleges, universities, and organizations
engage young adults in reflective conversations about purpose, identity, and responsibility. These conversations build trust, strengthen community, and deepen understanding across lines of difference.
As the only national higher education association dedicated solely to campus-based civic engagement, Campus Compact enables campuses to develop students’ citizenship skills and forge effective community partnerships. Campus Compact resources support faculty and staff as they pursue community-based teaching and scholarship in the service of positive change.
Fostering Civil Discourse
This guide from Facing History and Ourselves provides resources for the following challenges: How can you create a safe and reflective classroom where students learn to exchange ideas and listen respectfully to each other? What strategies are most effective in helping students practice constructive civil discourse?
Intellectual Freedom Blog
The Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association's blog, featuring news from libraries and campuses around the country including challenges to books and articles about privacy, internet filtering and censorship.
National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation Resource Center
Resources for dialogue and deliberation including ideas for ground rules for group discussions of difficult topics.
Preparing Students for Difficult Conversations
A lesson plan from the nonprofit Facing History and Ourselves to help teachers to create a safe and reflective classroom where students feel they can speak honestly about difficult issues without being judged or shut down by others, where they develop listening skills and the ability to hear perspectives different from their own, and where they learn to have civil discourse and not debate. Facing History and Ourselves' mission is to engage students of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism, prejudice, and antisemitism in order to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry.
The Right Question Institute
The RQI aims to make democracy work better by teaching a strategy that allows anyone, no matter their educational, income or literacy level, to learn to ask better questions and participate more effectively in decisions that affect them. Free registration is required to access resources.
Teaching Resources for Difficult Times
A guide created and hosted by the Teaching and Learning Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching – Difficult Dialogues
This guide seeks to help teachers feel more confident leading difficult dialogues by encouraging reflection on how such discussions connect with larger learning goals, and by providing specific strategies and resources that teachers can use to create more productive conversations in their classrooms.
Inclusive Teaching Practices
From the Association of College & University Educators, practices that will help faculty create learning environments where all students feel they belong, which can result in more equitable outcomes for all learners.
Inclusive Teaching Resources & Strategies
From the University of Michigan's Center for Research On Teaching & Learning, on supporting the learning of all students by creating learning environments where students of all identities and backgrounds can flourish.
Articles About Civil Discourse
How to Teach Students About Thorny Issues Without Insinuating Your Own Views
This article by Jo-Ellen Pozner, published at Inside Higher Education, addresses challenging students to discuss the world without judging the discourse by one's own values.
Information in the Indignation Age
This post by Mark Lenker, Teaching & Learning Librarian at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, on ACRLog, examines the impact of emotion and polarization on our information seeking and use.
On Difficult Conversations
Derisa Grant, assistant teaching professor at the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education and a consultant on equitable and inclusive pedagogy, notes that framing conversations about identity as "difficult" marginalizes students and ill equips faculty. Instead she recommends practicing responding to challenging statements and engaging students in evidence based discussion.
A Plea for Civil Discourse: Needed, the Academy's Leadership
This piece, by Andrea Leskes, published in Liberal Education, the journal of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, makes the case for civil discourse in college classrooms.
Talking Across Divides: 10 Ways to Encourage Civil Classroom Conversation On Difficult Issues
Practical tips for engaging students by Katherine Schulten, teacher and editor, published at the New York Times Learning Network.
Views among college students regarding the First Amendment: Results from a new survey
A preliminary report from 2017 by John Villasenor, published at the Brookings Institution. Villasenor notes that he plans to write about the survey results in an academic paper, but provides initial findings in this article of a survey of college students' views on the First Amendment, and how those views may influence intellectual debates on campuses.
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