1. K-State home
  2. »Diversity and Inclusion
  3. »KSUnite
  4. »Civic Discourse as a Disposition for Engaging Difference

Diversity and Inclusion

Civic Discourse as a Disposition for Engaging Difference

Civic Discourse as a Disposition for Engaging Difference
Engagement: Introductory             

The opportunity to explore diverse ideas and experiences is a central tenet of higher education. For students, faculty, and staff on university campuses, the freedom of thought and expression is one of the things that make higher education an important and unique institution of American life and for any democratic society. But freedom to speak damages a community if it is not aligned with intentional efforts to listen, understand, and engage. This presentation explores the role of civic discourse as a way to engage differences constructively; not to limit, but instead to foster democratic life. The session will introduce the importance of public discourse as a way to understand differences, the importance of listening as practice and disposition, and the role of intellectual humility. It will provide tangible examples for faculty, staff, and students on how to engage in civic discourse in the classroom, on campus, and in the community.


Dr. Tim ShafferDr. Timothy Shaffer
Director, Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy

As an interdisciplinary scholar and practitioner of deliberative democracy, civic education, and group communication, Dr. Timothy J. Shaffer focuses on the advancement of democratic practices by focusing on the role of civic professionals in institutional settings such as higher education, local government, and non-governmental organizations in relationship with diverse communities.

Dr. Shaffer is the editor of Deliberative Pedagogy: Teaching and Learning for Democratic Engagement (Michigan State University Press, 2017), Jumping into Civic Life: Stories of Public Work from Extension Professionals (Kettering
Foundation Press, 2018), Agri-Culture and Future of Farming: An Interactivity Foundation Discussion Guidebook (Interactivity Foundation, 2018), A Crisis of Civility? Political Discourse and Its Discontents (Routledge, 2019), and Creating Space for Democracy: A Primer on Dialogue and Deliberation in Higher Education (Stylus, 2019).

Dr. Shaffer currently serves an associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies and as director of the Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy at Kansas State University. He is also principal research specialist with the National Institute for Civil Discourse at the University of Arizona. He received his Ph.D. from Cornell University.