Public Discourse Initiative Launched

November 8, 2017

The breakdown of public discourse in our country has led to an increasing distrust of public institutions by our citizens.  Polarizing opinions escalated by the divisive strategies of political parties has thwarted the efforts of communities to create positive social change and increase civic engagement.  The need for higher education to create safe spaces to address controversial issues is needed now more than ever.

In an effort to address these difficult conversations that are occurring on campuses across our country, Campus Compact of Southern New England (CCSNE) is pleased to announce the Public Discourse Initiative (PDI), made possible through the generous support of the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI). We believe that Higher Education is positioned to be a leader of change in our communities by preparing campus representatives to be successful in the practice of dialogue, deliberation and debate.

CCSNE is committed to providing our campuses with the information and resources they need for the implementation of dialogic practice on their campuses focusing on four main goals in our Public Discourse Initiative:

  • To help faculty, staff, and community partners understand various deliberative dialogue methodologies to be practiced in their institutions and identify the factors that have negatively impacted the levels of dialogue and discourse on their campuses.
  • To develop a collaboration of scholars and practitioners who seek to improve the research and practice of civic discourse on campuses and communities
  • To advance individual and institutional change in civic learning and action to positively impact institutions, systems and communities.
  • To disseminate research findings and best practices in deliberative dialogue to Campus Compact member campuses to positively enrich their civic discourse and engagement.

Dialogue and discourse programs have been part of our Compact in different ways in the past, but we look forward to formalizing our work with member campuses to promote public discourse to help join us in addressing these difficult dialogues that have become challenges for all institutions of higher education.  Together, CCSNE and our campuses can support and educate our students to become the next generation of leaders in public decision-making and civic engagement.