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Across the Conversation – an overview of the UNC Faculty Symposium on Deliberative Pedagogy

Last week, the UNC Program for Public Discourse hosted the UNC Faculty Symposium on Deliberative Pedagogy, which invited faculty, staff, and graduate students from across the Carolina campus to share their ideas and refine their skills for fostering dialogue and debate.
The Symposium was divided into four panels:
  1. Communication Beyond Carolina
  2. Facilitating & Evaluating Public Discourse
  3. Engaging Race and Racism in the Classroom
  4. Student Perspectives on Dialogue and Debate
Across these discussions, participants considered how best to prepare students to engage with difficult questions in constructive ways and present their ideas to varied audiences, and how instructors can show vulnerability and use student-empowering practices to ensure their classrooms generate open and edifying deliberation.
Recordings of these important discussions are now available in a playlist on our YouTube channel. Copies of the panelists’ presentations and an anonymized chat log containing further discussion and links to additional resources are available on the event page.
Read more about each panel below.

Communication Beyond Carolina

Nick Siedentop of the Office of Undergraduate Curricula< provides an overview of how UNC-Chapel Hill is implementing the new IDEAs in Action curriculum, how communication and collaboration are interwoven throughout, and which elements courses must have to qualify as part of the Communication Beyond Carolina component; Dr. Charlotte Boettiger of the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience offers a professor’s perspective on how instructors can build their courses around the Communication Beyond Carolina component, particularly the elements requiring that students learn how to adapt messaging for distinct audiences; and Dr. Erika Wise of the Department of Geography gives examples of how she’s successfully implemented the component into two of her own classes.

Facilitating & Evaluating Public Discourse

Dr. Lloyd Kramer of the Department of History and Carolina Public Humanities argues for the importance of cultivating every student’s ability to facilitate and evaluate public discourse and the role of the humanities in supporting a functional democracy; Dr. Kelly Hogan of the Department of Biology and Office of Instructional Innovation models ways to introduce discursive conversations to students and build a classroom environment that encourages and facilitates participation in varied ways; and Dr. Michael Vazquez of the Department of Philosophy and the Parr Center for Ethics explains how to introduce discursive practices into the classroom, offering a taxonomy of discourse to help professors and students think about different kinds of classroom discussion and providing examples of concrete activities and assignments to incorporate them.

Engaging Race and Racism in the Classroom

Dr. Sibby Anderson-Thompkins of the Office for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion provides models and strategies she’s utilized in her experiences convening and facilitating conversations about race and racism in the classroom; Dr. Emily Boehm of the Center for Faculty Excellence discusses ways faculty can meet students’ needs when engaging these topics, including acknowledging racist histories in their field and anticipating and designing to overcome areas of stress; and Dr. Travis Albritton of the School of Social Work explains why showing vulnerability as an instructor is necessary for creating transgressive spaces that enable meaningful engagement with race and racism and that it’s essential to ground these topics in historical conversations.

Student Perspectives on Dialogue and Debate

Dr. Kevin Marinelli of the Department of Communication and the Program for Public Discourse interviews several Agora Fellows about their experiences with dialogue and debate both in the classroom and around campus, including what practices they would like professors to implement to improve both; and Dr. Christian Lundberg of the Department of Communication gives an overview of the Chancellor’s Science Scholars program and interviews previous participants about what they learned through the program’s debate component, which required them to adopt and argue opposing perspectives on pressing topics to become better communicators.