The Civic Discourse Project

Addressing the pressing issues of our times. 

The Civic Discourse Project is a multi-year project addressing the pressing issues of our times.  Each year, the project addresses a particular important theme by inviting the top minds- civic leaders, academics, public intellectuals - engaged in thinking through the big ideas and challenges facing American society, to discuss and explore them with our community.

The series is designed to bring us closer together, not farther apart, through robust civil discourse, with speakers from across the intellectual spectrum. We call it a project because as our challenges change, so do the ideas and topics for discussion we include in our series.

The series is co-sponsored by the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU.

Previous seasons of the Civic Discourse Project

Eric Kaufmann

2022-23: Ideological Conformity on Campus and in American Society

In the 2022-23 Civic Discourse Project lecture series, we invite you to reflect on the status of open dialogue, dissent, and the pursuit of knowledge today in universities and American society. Throughout the series, we will discuss whether there is room for disagreement and ideological differences in the arts, the media, business, and the academic environment today. 

Watch the series. 

Jonathan Rausch

2021-2022: Renewing America's Civic Compact

The 2021-22 Civic Discourse Project series was devoted to the theme of “Renewing America’s Civic Compact.” Today's challenge is to find a path on which Americans can move together with a sense of purpose to rebuild the public and private institutions through which we sustain our civic, communal, and professional lives. This series offered a serious assessment of what the challenges are to American civic life and its institutions — including the university — and discussed how to address them in a way that rebuilds the institutions and unity of our civil society. Americans must find a way to engage civilly amidst competing perspectives in the face of the many trials we face in politics and governance, at home and abroad.

Watch the series. 

2020-2021: Race, Justice, and Leadership in America

In response to Arizona State University President Michael Crow's call to address recent events across America and the civic crisis of conscience they provoked, the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership proposes to lead a program of discussion, learning, and action for a renewal of our common pledge to respect and protect the equal rights of all Americans to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To this end, the theme of this year's "The Civic Discourse Project" will address Race, Justice, and Leadership in America in a virtual series. 

Watch the series. 

Civic Discourse Project

2019-2020: Citizenship and Civic Leadership in America

Mark Twain once said that “[c]itizenship is what makes a republic.” The primary purpose of civic education, as envisioned by the Founders, was to instill in our population the civic virtues, basic principles and practices of citizenship that would sustain a republic. What are the characteristics, advantages, duties, and responsibilities of a citizen today? Speakers include Robert Putnam, Yascha Mounk, David Leonhardt, Rich Lowry, Ramesh Ponnuru, and Shikha Dalmia.

Watch the series.

Civic Discourse Project

2018-19: Polarization and Civil Disagreement: Confronting America's Civic Crisis

Political and intellectual polarization are a significant contributing factor to America’s civic crisis. By providing forums for civil disagreement, we hope to engage in the intellectual and civic work necessary to overcome the political divide and to renew and enhance America’s capacity for self-governance. Speakers include Jonah Goldberg, Arthur Brooks, and Kristen Soltis Anderson.  

Watch the series.

Civic Discourse Project

2017-18: Free Speech and Intellectual Diversity in Higher Education and American Society

The school's inaugural lecture series took on the theme of free speech and intellectual diversity on college campuses and in American society as a whole. The school assembled high profile speakers from a range of viewpoints to discuss the meaning of intellectual diversity in education; the new challenges facing freedom of discourse; and the implications of this campus crisis for America’s civic order. Speakers include Jonathan Haidt, Steven Pinker, Allison Stanger, and Harvey Mansfield.

Watch the series. 

Watch the Civic Discourse Project

Through our Civic Discourse Project, the school is able to bring in top minds in civics, academics and public thought for in-person dialogues as well as a regularly aired TV show on Arizona PBS. Not only are all of these public talks are free and open to the public, they are also available for viewing on our website. To be informed when new videos are available, sign up for our newsletter and subscribe to our Youtube channel

Go to the video catalogue. 

"The SCETL event, the lecture series, is one of the best in Arizona. The caliber of people that they bring in and the networking opportunity that you can have just by going to an event." 

- Dominic F., a student in the W. P. Carey School of Business from Chicago, Illinois