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Private Higher Education
September 7, 2022

Duke University hosted a four-day seminar in August to help college educators from across the country learn how to teach civil discourse skills in the classroom. The AVDF-funded project was recently featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education with the article The Elusive Civil Classroom.”

The faculty seminar was based on the successful classroom experiences of Dr. John Rose’s course “How to Think in an Age of Political Polarization,” which was profiled in the Wall Street Journal. Rose is an associate director of the Civil Discourse Project at Duke’s Kenan Institute for Ethics. He led the seminar along with Teresa Bejan, professor of political theory at the University of Oxford.

More than 20 educators spent four days practicing civil discourse to learn how to encourage students to do the same in a classroom setting. The participants represented a variety of higher education institutions and academic disciplines, so it was not surprising the group had moments of disagreement. As participants learned how to disagree respectfully with one another, they witnessed first-hand how to help their students have conversations across diverse ideologies.

The faculty discussed different methods for encouraging students to share their thoughts on controversial issues, while also teaching them to understand their fellow students’ points of view. The participants recognized the challenges of this process but also realized the benefits such as giving students opportunities to authentically express themselves and teaching them intellectual humility.

Educators from schools including Skidmore, Brigham Young, and Pepperdine attended the seminar. To learn more about the civil discourse faculty session, click here.

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