Renewing America’s Civic Compact

The Civic Discourse Project (2021-2022)

For the 2021-22 season, the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership’s “Civic Discourse Project” is devoted to the theme of “Renewing America’s Civic Compact.” The challenge of our current time 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. The goal of the series is to offer a serious assessment of what the challenges are to American civic life and its institutions — including the university — and to discuss how to address them in a way that rebuilds the institutions of our civil society.

The program is co-sponsored by ASU’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership and the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, and supported by the Jack Miller Center.

Upcoming lectures

Constitution Day Lecture: "Patriotism – Our Most Contested Virtue" with Steven B. Smith

Steven B. Smith discusses patriotism

"History and Civic Education as the Foundation of Strategic Confidence" with Lt. General H.R. McMaster


As bias and vitriol contaminate the information environment today, the manipulation of history remains an important tool for those who want to sow division and conflict rather than foster unity and goodwill. Ignorance of history compounded by the abuse of it undermines our ability to work together and improve our nation and our society. A sense of history can help citizens recognize demagoguery and reject false dilemmas. Knowledge of history is essential to building trust in civic institutions and maintaining the confidence necessary to implement an effective foreign policy. Americans should be confident in their capacity for self-improvement because their Republic was founded on the radical idea that sovereignty lies neither with King nor Parliament, but with the people. 

Date: Thursday, October 7 at 5 p.m.
Location: Arizona Ballroom, Memorial Union 221

Reserve your seat.

"Rescuing Reality: Can Americans Have Shared Facts Again?" with Jonathan Rauch


Millions of Republicans believe (falsely) that Democrats stole the 2020 presidential election. Millions of Democrats believe (falsely) that Republicans stole the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election. Conspiracy theories, trolling, disinformation, and canceling seem to run amok, fracturing the country and causing what former President Obama and others call an epistemic crisis, where Americans can’t agree on even basic facts. Can we restore a common reality? The answer lies in James Madison’s principles of pluralism, persuasion, and compromise, which govern not only our politics but also our collective search for truth—and which are under withering attack today. 

Date: Thursday, October 28 at 5 p.m.
Location: Turquoise, Memorial Union 220

Reserve your seat.

"What Are the Causes of Racial Disparities in Contemporary America?" with Glenn Loury and Khalil Gibran Muhammad


In this lecture, Dr. Glenn Loury will introduce a theory of persistent social and economic disparities between racial groups meant to apply to the historical circumstances of the United States. The central argument rests on a distinction between racial bias in the treatment of persons in their individual economic transactions, and racial bias in the social relations among persons in their everyday lives. This perspective points toward a radically different program of policy interventions needed to reduce racial disparities -- shifting the focus from one of fighting against discrimination to one of promoting the human development of the disadvantaged. Dr. Khalil Gibran Mohammad responds.

Date: Monday, November 15 at 5 p.m.
Location: Turquoise, Memorial Union 220

Register to attend.

Can We Talk Honestly About Race?

The “Can We Talk Honestly About Race?” series is co-sponsored by SCETL and the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Learn more here.

"What Are the Causes of Racial Disparities in Contemporary America?" with Glenn Loury and Khalil Gibran Muhammad

In this lecture, Dr. Glenn Loury will introduce a theory of persistent social and economic disparities between racial groups meant to apply to the historical circumstances of the United States. The central argument rests on a distinction between racial bias in the treatment of persons in their individual economic transactions, and racial bias in the social relations among persons in their everyday lives. This perspective points toward a radically different program of policy interventions needed to reduce racial disparities -- shifting the focus from one of fighting against discrimination to one of promoting the human development of the disadvantaged. Dr. Khalil Gibran Mohammad responds.

Date: Monday, November 15 at 5 p.m.
Location: Turquoise, Memorial Union 220

Register to attend.

COVID-19 guidelines

 Please keep in mind the CDC recommendations as well as ASU Community of Care health protocols on how to keep yourself and others healthy. ASU strongly recommends that everyone on campus wear a face cover when inside a university building. Some buildings and events will require face covers.

Previous seasons of the Civic Discourse Project

2020-2019: 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

2018-2019: 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

2017-2018: 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 catalog.