Upcoming Fall 2022 Events

The Project on Civil Discourse offers facilitated discussions on topics relevant to free speech, inclusion, intellectual diversity, tolerance, political difference, and more. Learn more about what to expect in a peer discussion. See all topics and descriptions in the peer discussions tab. 

Fall 2022 Sessions:

  • Do Your Professor's Politics Matter? (9/27)
  • The Paradox of Tolerance (10/11)
  • Apology 101 (10/25)
  • When the Marketplace of Ideas Sells Junk (11/08)
  • Patriotism, Dissent, and Power (11/15)

All discussions will take place at 7pm in SIS Meeting Room 260.

Have you ever felt the urge to disagree with a professor in class? Or have you ever simply wished to question them out of curiosity, yet felt unable to do so? In this collaboration between the SPA Undergraduate Council and AU Project on Civil Discourse, students will have the opportunity to engage with a professor each week on a range of topics - a mix of light-hearted and deep, potentially difficult ones. Fear not about grades or saying "the right" thing!

This series will run every Wednesday at 7pm in MGC 200, between September 28th and November 16th. Stay tuned for more info. 

Topics include: 

  • Why universities should not punish offensive speech
  • Gun laws
  • Is a Master's worth it?
  • Why peaceful protest is always superior to violent protest

We recognize that discourse for graduate students can be different from discourse for undergraduates. Moreover, many graduate students are working professionals. With this in mind, these events are specifically geared towards Masters and PhD students at AU. All, however, are welcome. 

Events: 

The Role of Dissent in Nonprofits: When Staff Openly Disagree with the Boss

October 5th (Wed) at 8:15pm Kerwin 204 (Food and drink provided)

We are pleased to host Professor Char Mollison for this event, who has over 35 years of experience leading, managing and advising nonprofit organizations. Char has advised government officials, nonprofit executives and boards in the U.S. and abroad, including Eastern and Central Europe, Latin America, China, Central Asia, Bangladesh and Africa. She is also a Senior Fellow both at the Center on Nonprofits, Philanthropy and Social Enterprise at George Mason University and at the Center for Advanced Governmental Studies at Johns Hopkins University. 

PCD, in partnership with Student Advocates for Native Communities (SANC) is presenting a three part dialogue series this fall on Indigenous peoples and communities!

Part I: Should Indigenous Peoples’ Day replace Columbus Day?: Reckoning with our nation's past and imagining its future.

Wednesday, October 12th 12-1:30pm in Kerwin T04.

Join Dr. Elizabeth Rule - AU Assistant Professor of Race, Gender, and Culture Studies and citizen of the Chicasaw Nation - for a student-led dialogue about the legacy of Columbus and its impact on indigenous communities

Part II: Election season: U.S. Indigenous peoples in politics (Date TBD)

Part III: Am I allowed to celebrate Thanksgiving? (Date TBD)

For many students in the American public school system, the Thanksgiving holiday has been taught as a celebration of unity and gratitude. At the same time, in the last several decades, researchers and advocates have shed light on the long, violent history that Native Americans have suffered from colonial expansion and the U.S. government.

Some advocates encourage that we use Thanksgiving as an opportunity for reflection, while others advocate for the full abandonment of the holiday. So, what do you think we should we do? Why?

Past Events

Communication and Community In the Time of Social Distancing

Tuesdays from May 26 - June 23 | 12 PM 
Join Lara Schwartz, executive director of the Project on Civil Discourse at AU's School of Public Affairs (SPA), every Tuesday at noon for a conversation series on building and maintaining community and connection in a world of self-quarantine.

May 26: Inspired Higher Education Across Distance, with Prof. Kevin Gannon

June 2: Pride During the Covid-19 Era, with Charlotte Cloymer

June 16: Activism and Expression Across Distance, with Daniel Alejandro Leon-Davis

June 23: Parenting, Way Up Close, with Katherin Reynolds Lewis

June 30: Building Faith Remotely, with Rabbi Ruti Regan and Rev. Dr. Laura Norvell, Wesley Theological Seminary

Community and Conversations across Distance

April 20 and April 23, 2020 | 2pm EDT 

In these student-facilitated discussions, community members will explore what is missing from college when we have professors, office hours, and classes but are far apart. How does this affect our ability to connect, learn together, trust one another, and have tough conversations?

Reflections on Fairness

With PCD student leaders
April 16, 2020 | 2pm EDT

In this conversation, students will continue to reflect upon how their political, personal, spiritual, or other values and identities inform their perceptions of education and live in the COVID-19 crisis. They will engage in perspective taking and brainstorm effective ways to use their voices in support of equity and accessibility in this challenging time.

Frustration and Fairness in the COVID Era 

With PCD Director Lara Schwartz
April 13, 2020 | 2pm EDT

In this conversation, students will explore the new challenges of pursuing an education across distance. Does self-isolation and distance learning exacerbate existing inequities, create new ones, or a combination?  Most agree it is difficult, but can we characterize this difficulty as “unfair?” Why? 

Put the ‘Super’ in Super Tuesday

March 3, 2020 | 6:00PM | MGC 5

Planning to watch the Super Tuesday results roll in on your favorite network with members of your political tribe? Let’s mix that up. Come join the Project on Civil Discourse for “Both Sides Bingo" while watching the festivities results from a variety of different news outlets. You’ll get a bingo card with common Super Tuesday phrases and actions like “heartland values” and “John King plays with a map.” Follow along with the coverage, mark your bingo cards, and maybe win Project on Civil Discourse swag.

Added bonus: free ice cream, which means everyone goes home a winner!

Free Speech, Student Activism, and Racial Justice: AN ACLU LAWYER'S PERSPECTIVE

February 28, 2020 | 11:30 AM | Hughes Formal Lounge

Join Emerson Sykes, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and fellow at the National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement, for a discussion about racial justice and student activism. Refreshments will be provided.

What's With AU?

November 20, 2019 | 5:00PM | MGC 245

Join us in a panel discussion as we break down the mold of the typical AU student and the pressures of having constant internships and multiple leadership positions. This panel provides AU community members with an opportunity to better understand student life at AU. Why is the typical AU student under these pressures? Who created these pressures? AU faculty and staff will be able to offer observations of student behavior and mindset over many generations or at different universities which they have taught at.

Political Discourse and the American Jewish Identity

November 18, 2019 | 7:00PM | Hughes Formal

This discussion will focus on the use of Jews and the issue of anti-Semitism as a political hacky sack by the American political right and left. A four-person panel of expert Jewish speakers will discuss some of these difficult issues on stage before opening things up to questions from the audience. Attendees will be able to consider the tension between marginalization and privilege within the American Jewish community.

The Picture of Dorian Gray Talkback

November 9, 2019 | 3:00PM | Katzen 151

This talkback will take place among the will focus on the legacy of problematic authors and how to properly perform their work. Focusing around the example of Oscar Wilde and the Picture of Dorian Gray, we will explore how to separate, or not separate, authors and their writing. To participate in this event, you must have attended the play.

Paradox of Tolerance

October 23, 2019 | 11:30AM | Hughes Formal Lounge

The paradox of tolerance states that if a society is tolerant without limit, its ability to be tolerant is eventually seized or destroyed by the intolerant. This panel will discuss whether and to what extent religious tolerance warrants limits on laws, such as antidiscrimination laws, designed to ensure tolerance for, access by, and participation in society for members of the protected classes.

A Conversation with Louis Michael Seidman: Can Free Speech Be Progressive?

April 3, 2019 | 2:30PM | Hughes Formal Lounge

Louis Michael Seidman is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Constitutional Law at Georgetown Law. Seidman spoke about his work, "Can Free Speech Be Progressive?," outlining his arguments and discussing the constitutionalization of free speech and the tension between property and speech.

Watch Seidman's lecture.

The Spring 2019 Global Education Forum: "Hate Comes to Campus"

March 28, 2019 | 2:30PM | SVB 6th Floor

Join Shannon Gilreath, Ibram X. Kendi, and Lara Schwartz for a panel discussion on free speech and the future of the campus community.

Conviction and Authenticity in Political Communication: A Conversation with Tyler Lewis

March 6, 2019 | 11:30AM | MGC 200

Tyler Lewis is the Director of Coalition Communications and Research at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Lewis spoke about political communication, the importance of moral clarity and repetition, and the interplay between passion and anger.

Watch Lewis' lecture.

Activism, Discourse, and Identity with “The Monopoly Man.”

November 1, 2018

Ian Madrigal (formerly Amanda Werner), an attorney and consumer advocate best known as “The Monopoly Man,” discussed the interplay of identity and discourse and how they use their voice and platform for activism.

Watch the lecture.

Free Speech Isn't Free: A Conversation with Garrett Epps

October 17, 2018

Garrett Epps is a law professor at the University of Baltimore and a contributing editor for The Atlantic. Epps spoke about the complexity of free speech and the unequal burden it can present.

Watch Epps' lecture on YouTube.
A Reflection on "A Conversation with Garrett Epps"
Project on Civil Discourse Guest Lecturer Examines First Amendment

Diversity of Opinion and Campus Speech: A Conversation with Josh Blackman

September 27, 2018

Josh Blackman is a law professor at the South Texas College of Law and a Cato Institute Adjunct Scholar. Blackman spoke about the role that free speech plays in education and his own experience with being protested.

Watch Blackman’s lecture.
A Reflection on “A Conversation with Josh Blackman”
Understanding the Role of Free Speech on Campus