Deliberation & Debate: Advancing Civil Discourse through Courses for First-Year Students 7/17/2022 7/17/2022 7/17/20227/20/20227/20/20227/20/2022 Washington, DC

Why This Workshop?

Deliberation & Debate logo​The workshop will hone the skills of faculty members who teach courses for first-year students; support the development of new courses; and build a network of faculty members across institutions who prepare students for the challenges, diversity, and disputes about ideas that are elements of a rigorous liberal arts education. CIC senior advisor Michael Gilligan, former president of the Henry Luce Foundation, will direct the workshop that will take place July 17–20, 2022 in Washington, DC. Twenty teams from CIC member institutions, each comprising two faculty members, will participate in the workshop.

Students come to college from local communities and a world increasingly characterized by harsh divisions and polarization, where voices are strident, objective facts are often discounted, and respect for difference is often seen as capitulation. Yet, at the heart of the liberal arts mission is the pursuit of knowledge and truth through intellectual exchange and debate. Many if not most of today’s first-year students arrive unprepared to discuss controversial issues with respect for a diversity of ideas and opinions. Hoping to deepen their own identities and to find community in college, students instead find themselves defensive, fearful of other opinions, and isolated in their own still-uncertain positions.    
This workshop is designed for faculty members who teach first-year courses: a) orientations to classroom survival skills, b) expository writing courses, and c) the kind of “big ideas” seminars that lead students from their more limited experiences to learning about new ideas and discussing them with respect for others’ views. Through the workshop’s four days, faculty members will explore strategies and rhetorical practices that promote learning and civil discourse such as logical argument, use of evidence, formal debate, clear and persuasive writing, deliberative pedagogy, constructive disagreement, and empathic listening.

The Workshops on Deliberation & Debate are made possible through generous support from the Charles Koch Foundation, with supplemental funding from the National Endowment for the HumanitiesAny views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities..

Workshop Director

​Michael Gilligan is president emeritus of the Henry Luce Foundation, where he led programs for learning and leadership at more than 400 colleges and universities. He previously served as director of accreditation and leadership education at the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada. Earlier in his career, he was professor of English and dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the Pontifical College Josephinum. Doctorally trained at the University of Virginia in English language and literature, Gilligan has specialized in rhetoric, faculty development, and institutional improvement. In more than 20 years of teaching and administration, he has focused on the moments of transition: from high school to college, from undergraduate to graduate school, and from the university to civic engagement.


  • Leila Brammer, Director of the Parrhesia Program for Public Discourse, University of Chicago​
  • Sara Mehltretter Drury, Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Director of Democracy and Public Discourse, Wabash College (on Deliberative Pedagogy)
  • Robert Groven, Associate Professor and Co-Chair of the Department of Communication Studies, Film, and New Media and Director of the Minnesota Urban Debate League, Augsburg University (on Debate and Argumentation)

Health and Safety

CIC is committed to the health and safety of its members and their communities. Following the guidance of our medical advisors, and to create the safest possible environment while offering meaningful opportunities for interaction, CIC now requires that all participants be fully up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines. For this purpose, “up to date” means a person has received all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including any booster dose(s) as eligible. For some of you, this may mean you will need to receive a booster shot no later than two weeks before the start of the seminar you plan to attend. Current guidance on booster shots can be found on the CDC website.

CIC expects that all participants who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine will be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before arriving at the seminar. Please expect to be asked to attest to your vaccination status upon acceptance to the seminar; closer to the seminar, you will be asked to submit verification. If you have been unable to receive the vaccine for any reason you will need to speak with a member of the CIC staff to complete your registration.

At the seminar, participants will be expected to contribute to a safe event by respecting all national, local, and venue-specific health guidelines that might be in effect. Updated information about workshop-specific protocols for mask use and distancing will be issued shortly before the event. By attending, participants agree to support their colleagues and communities by complying with all recommendations that are in effect during the workshop, as well as with the CIC Code of Conduct.

Participants, Location, and Expenses

​CIC selected 40 participants—two each from 20 institutions—for the second workshop by competitive nomination. The seminar took place at the Madison Hotel in Washington, DC, beginning the afternoon of Sunday, July 17 and concluding on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. Lodging, most meals, and workshop materials will be provided through generous support from the Charles Koch Foundation. Participants or their institutions are expected to cover transportation to and from the workshop location.

​Faculty members who wish to participate must be nominated as a team by the chief academic officer of the nominees’ institution. Each institution may nominate more than one two-person team; full-time faculty members of any academic rank may be nominated. Nomination packets consisting of the following should be submitted online:

  1. Nomination letter from the chief academic officer explaining why it is of value to the institution and to the nominees to participate in the seminar;
  2. Completed nomination form;
  3. Nominees’ curriculum vitae; and
  4. A statement of reasons from the faculty-member team for wishing to participate in the seminar and of anticipated impact on first year courses. The statement should address how the faculty members have helped students to consider topics from several points of view as well as how their first-year courses have prepared students for the intellectual diversity and deliberation in upper level courses.

Please submit the nomination materials online by Friday, February 4, 2022.

CIC will announce the selected participants by Friday, March 11, 2022.

Contact Information

​For questions about the workshop or nomination process, contact Stephen Gibson, CIC’s director of programs, at or by phone at (202) 466-7230.