1. K-State home
  2. »ICDD
  3. »About
  4. »Civic Discourse - Principles

Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy

Civic Discourse

A terse definition of this phrase is simply the combination of "discourse" (communication in speech or writing) with "civic" (about citizens, citizenship, city, or community). Taken together, the concept of civic discourse has been developed in scholarship to examine the way that people communicate on public issues. Much of the literature dedicated to this work comes from fields such as communication, political science, philosophy, and education, with applications of theory ranging across many disciplines and work sectors. (See Resources for more in-depth reading). 

ICDD pursues theories and practices of civic discourse for improvements in the public sphere. The institute supports public conversation to elevate specific qualities of civic discourse: inclusiveness, equality, reciprocity, reflection, reason-giving, and shared decision-making.   

All converners of public conversations facilitated by ICDD are encouraged to begin by adopting principles of civic discourse as ground rules for the duration of the event. Groups may develop their own, or consider these that we offer, but by addressing not only the topic of conversation, but its conduct, participants become aware of their role in maintaining its quality.

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.