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Dialogue & Civil Discourse

Dialogue & Civil Discourse

Since 2004, NCCE has helped campuses gain knowledge and skills in various civil discourse and dialogue methods. We believe such habits are critical for effective participation in a democratic society. We also believe higher education has a role to play in depolarizing North Carolina.  To date, over 1000 individuals have engaged directly in our trainings and events, thousands more have been engaged by our grantees. Contact us to learn about the on-site training we can provide to member campuses. 

Quick History of NCCE Dialogue Initiatives:

2024 – We co-organized the first NC Campus Discourse Leaders Conference which convened practitioners and scholars of public discourse from 19 campuses to catalyze discussions about how we can best equip students to engage in better public reasoning on challenging topics and how to make such conversations as inclusive and welcoming as possible. The event was hosted by The Program for Public Discourse at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and co-organized with the Deliberative Citizenship Initiative at Davidson College, the Kernodle Center for Civic Life at Elon University and the Free Expression and Constructive Dialogue Task Force at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  See highlights
2023 – We launched the Redesigning Democracy Competition which integrates dialogue and discourse into the activities. We also hosted the CSNAP Student Conference with the theme, “Rising Together: Students Depolarizing NC.” Student leaders engaged with a variety of methods of dialogue, deliberation, and debate, and learned how to facilitate dialogues. Models that students engaged with included: Civil Dialogue, For Students By Students, Living Room Conversations, Braver Angels Alliance Workshops, and Braver Debates.
2022 – We piloted the NC Student Dialogue Ambassadors Initiative at four member institutions.
2020 – We launched the NC Collegiate Civics Project, funded by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, allowing us to distribute mini-grants to support member campus dialogue initiatives and to facilitate the Virtual Dialogue Series.
2020 — Our Civic Engagement Institute “Engagement 2.0: Civics, Civility, and Civil Discourse” involved teams from 22 member campuses spending a day in immersive learning. Featured models were Civil Dialogue, Intergroup Dialogue, Sustained Dialogue, Essential Partners, Everyday Democracy, Living Room Conversations, and NIF deliberative dialogue.
2019 – We launched the Community Change Collegiate Challenge (4C) a one-day immersion for students in deliberation
2018 — Our Civic Engagement Institute “Education for Democracy: Promoting Civility and Problem Solving through Deliberative Pedagogy” was facilitated by Dr. Nick Longo and Dr. Timothy Shaffer helping member campuses explore deliberative democracy. All member campuses receive a copy of the book. Over 160 individuals from 27 institutions attend.
2015 – We hosted Rhonda Fitzgerald of the Sustained Dialogue Institute for our CSNAP Student Conference “Leadership  Through  Sustained Dialogue.” Students from 21 campuses received a full-day immersion into this method.
2013 — Our Civic Engagement Institute “Becoming Citizens, Becoming Community” involved a training of 175 individuals from 21 campuses in the National Issues Forum  deliberative dialogue method. Since that time, we have hosted trainings in how to moderate forums for over 800 faculty, staff, students, and community members from more than 100 colleges and universities. If you are interested in bringing Moderator Training to your college, university, or community group, contact NCCE.
2004-2006 – We participated in The People Speak (TPS), an initiative led by the United Nations Foundation and a non-partisan group of concerned organizations to provide forums for Americans to discuss policies affecting their future. TPS themes included (2004) “America’s Role in the World”; (2005)  “Building a Safer World: Defining the US-UN Relationship for the 21st Century;” and (2006) “Working Together with the World: What’s in it for the U.S.?” with three sub-topics: 1) Working Together on Energy and Global Climate Change; 2) Working Together to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals; and 3) Working Together towards Peace, Security and Human Rights. Over those three years, we provided mini-grants to 13 member campuses who hosted Forums that engaged a total of 3689 individuals.

We have introduced NCCE members to the following 14 unique dialogue and civil discourse methods, models, and tools. 

Virtual Dialogue Series

In 2020 we launched this series to introduce our member institutions to multiple dialogue and civil discourse methods. Four of the sessions are available for viewing hereA total of 280 individuals have participated from 35 colleges & universities and two community partner organizations.

The Dialogue Dilemma on Campus (featuring Dr. Jake Fay of the Constructive Dialogue Institute) – October 4, 2023

Civil Dialogue (featuring Jennifer Linde) – December 5, 2022

Aristotles Cafe (featuring Hassan Ghiassi) – September 29, 2021 (overview); September 29, 2021 (faculty training); September 30, 2021 (student training)

Candidly Speaking (featuring Adolpha Cole) – August 31, 2021

Bring it to the Table (featuring Julie Winokur) – September 3, 2020

Democracy/Socrates Cafe (featuring Chris Phillips) – July 21, 2020

Braver Angels (featuring Bill Doherty) – July 9, 2020

Spark Grants  

We provide grants to member institutions to facilitate and promote civil discourse and dialogue.

2023-24 Grantees ($500):

  • Elizabeth City State University
  • Greensboro College
  • Piedmont Community College
  • UNC Charlotte
  • UNC School of the Arts
  • Wake Technical Community College
  • Western Carolina University

2022-23 Grantees ($500):  Duke University, Mars Hill University, Piedmont Community College, and William Peace University

RESULTS: 21 dialogues engaging 376 individuals 

2021-22 Grantees ($1,000): East Carolina University, Elizabeth City State University, Lenoir-Rhyne University, NC State University, Piedmont Community College, UNC Asheville, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Greensboro and UNC Pembroke

RESULTS: 133 dialogues engaging 2497 individuals

2020-21 Grantees ($700): Campbell University, Elizabeth City State University, Lenoir-Rhyne University, NC State University, Piedmont Community College, UNC Asheville, UNC Pembroke, William Peace University, and Winston-Salem State University

RESULTS:  59 dialogues engaging 1254 individuals

The Reunited States Film Screenings and Filmmaker Conversations

In February 2021, NCCE partnered with The Reunited States to sponsor access to this film for 20 member campuses. Some campuses hosted a single screening, while others shared the link with a group of select students to view and discuss. On February 25, NCCC Executive Director, Leslie Garvin, facilitated a conversation with filmmaker Ben Rekhi and film subject Steven Olikara. This film features several Americans seeking to depolarize and bridge the partisan divide.