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Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy

Our Work

Our mission is to build community capacity for civic discourse and democratic engagement.

The Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy (ICDD) was formed in 2004 as an interdisciplinary, non-partisan organization in response to polarization and increasingly complex public issues that challenge democratic decision-making. ICDD engages in research, education, and facilitation of civic conversations to promote greater citizen participation through deliberation and dialogue.  Democracy offers a system in which people participate in decisions affecting their lives.  Their engagement can be optimized by the quality and frequency of civic discourse.  This serves to reinforce citizenship in other essential processes of democratic engagement, including elections, community organizing, and jury deliberation. 

Why civic discourse in higher education?

Civic learning refers to educational experiences that intentionally prepare us for informed and engaged participation in democratic life, by providing opportunities for learning and practice. ICDD employs the study and practice of civic discourse as a centerfold of civic learning.  A Framework has been developed by the National Task Force on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement that identifies skills, knowledge, values, and capabilities for collective action by college graduates.  These elements are combined in course and co-curricular offerings at Kansas State University that ICDD promotes, in coordination with academic, administrative, and extension groups dedicated to our students and the wider communities we serve. 

The institute connects faculty and students from all academic disciplines with community affiliates to address prominent issues using processes to improve qualities of civic discourse, specifically: inclusiveness, equality, reciprocity, reflection, reason-giving, and shared decision-making.   

All meetings and public conversations facilitated by ICDD are encouraged to begin by adopting principles of civic discourse as ground rules for the duration of the event.

ICDD Principles of Civic Discourse (Download the poster)

  • Seek understanding and common ground.
  • Expect and explore conflicting viewpoints.
  • Give everyone opportunity to speak.
  • Listen respectfully and thoughtfully.
  • Offer and examine support for claims.
  • Appreciate communication differences.
  • Stay focused on issues.
  • Respect time limits.