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About the Program for Public Discourse

“The search for knowledge is most robust when deliberation occurs and diverse ideas are discussed intelligently and constructively by the students and faculty.”

Terry Rhodes,

Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences

The UNC Program for Public Discourse is a program housed in the College of Arts & Sciences that includes faculty from across the University.

Our vision is to support a strong culture of debate and deliberation at UNC through curricular and extracurricular programs. We base our work on these core beliefs:

  • The University is a center for the creation, exploration, and dissemination of knowledge, and it serves a unique role both in history and in our contemporary culture.
  • The proper functioning of the university requires a commitment to open, frank, respectful, and productive debate.
  • When our faculty, by practice and example, teach students how to think and argue well, with the processes and terms of rational justification open to examination, they strengthen our democracy and our public lives.

Our mission is to build our students’ capacities for debate and deliberation, enabling them to be better citizens, civic leaders, and stewards of our democracy.

How we execute our mission is important in gaining university-wide support and maximizing internal and external resources. The following are our principles of execution. We are:

  • Transparent and welcoming of input
  • Focused on Constructive Public Discourse
  • Student-Centered
  • Strong Partners – Internally & Externally

Read more about our mission in our Mission Statement.

We will achieve our mission through actions in four areas.

  • Faculty and Course Development that highlights capacities for debate, oral communication, critical thinking, structured argumentation, deep content knowledge and epistemic humility.
  • Speaker Events that offer students perspectives on important issues that they may not otherwise get on campus. These events are ideally constructed to showcase constructive debate and diverse viewpoints
  • Fellows Programs:
    • Polis Fellows who write and contribute to a PPD periodical
    • Public Discourse Fellows who are affiliated with the program to showcase a commitment to the vision and mission

New Program Development to expand the scope and reach of our programs.