Civil Discourse

Passionate discussion, lively debate, logical argumentation, and intellectual experimentation are essential elements of the academic process. Students are encouraged to learn from each other, engage respectfully with those who have competing perspectives and thoughtfully explore a range of topics. But in today’s polarized political climate, practicing positive engagement and mutual respect in conversation across differences can prove difficult.

At USC, we are committed to freedom of inquiry and expression and intellectual rigor. Because of this, we want to provide our students with resources to help you navigate difficult conversations and discussions with civility, respect, and an open mind.

Here are some tips to help you begin:

  • Be fully present
  • Use I statements
  • Practice active listening
  • Assume positive intent
  • Don’t interrupt
  • Respond rather than react
  • Find common ground
  • Ask questions
  • Differentiate between facts and opinions

Also consider the list of resources below:

USC Dornsife Center for the Political Future

The USC Dornsife Center for the Political Future models and advances civil dialogue, demonstrating that individuals with different political perspectives can speak respectfully with each other and find ways to work together. The Center works to prepare students to become effective citizens by teaching and practicing the skills of practical political leadership. The Center offers workshops, discussions, and panels that allow students to practice civil discourse.