What We Do

The Civil Discourse Lab trains students to become non-partisan facilitators of challenging discussions, using small groups to focus participants on fundamental differences, shared values, and listening to each other’s perspectives, in order to encourage greater understanding, collaboration, and decision making. 

Guest Speakers Series

The Civil Discourse Lab welcomes guest speakers throughout the year to the University of New Hampshire. These speakers bring new ideas, concepts, practices, and theories of deliberation and facilitation to the CDL and UNH community. Previous guest speakers have included Sally Ann Roth, Martin Carcasson, Andy Coville, and Alexander Heffner. 

Heffner Poster Coville PosterCarcasson Poster

Partnerships with Local Organizations

The Civil Discourse Lab has partnered with community organizations in New Hampshire for several different events. The goal of these events is to hear the voices of those outside of the University of New Hampshire and to engage a new audience in difficult topics with the guidance of CDL facilitation. One such event occurred between the CDL, 3S Artspace in Portsmouth NH, and the Strawberry Banke on the topic of refugees, entitled "Becoming American" . 

Becoming American

Partnerships with Campus Organizations

The Civil Discourse Lab has collaborated with student groups at the University of New Hampshire. These partnerships seek to constructively address the concerns that students on campus are most passionate about. One such partnership occurred between the CDL, Hillel, MECA, and the Socratic Society at UNH entitled: "Israel and Palestine: Deconstructing our Stories".  The Civil Discourse Lab has also partnered with the UNH Art Museum, NH Listens, and several student political organizations on campus. 

Israel Palestine

Integration of Academic Courses 

In the spring semester of every academic year the Civil Discourse Lab, in collaboration with the UNH Communication Department, hosts a campus event entitled "Stories and Voices". These events are thoughtfully planned, researched, and organized by a Communication class under the guidance of CDL faculty members. Preparation for the event is integrated into an entire curricula within the Communication Department at UNH. Stories and Voices events seek to engage the UNH community, as well as surrounding community members, on sensitive topics. To adequately discuss these topics, research-filled program guides, experts on the topic, and local stakeholders all serve an important part of the event. Thus far, the CDL and Communication Department has hosted Stories and Voices events on the topics of Immigration and Addiction. 

Stories and Voices

Research Supported By Nation-wide Grants and Projects

As a part of a research institution, the CDL undertakes research in dialogue, deliberation, and facilitation examining difficult conversations and decision making. To do so, the Civil Discourse Lab often collaborates with nation-wide grants and projects. In the fall of 2019 the Civil Discourse Lab completed a project entitled "For Freedoms". This project was completed with support from grants received from the national organizations "For Freedoms" and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The project was also completed in collaboration with the UNH Art Museum, the Nashua NH Community College, the New Hampshire Humanities Collaborative, several political organizations on the UNH campus, and with the help of several UNH faculty members. This project included multiple different events at different locations which sought to identify and discuss the various different freedoms (example: freedom to love) that our community values. 

For Freedoms

Additional Information and Programs from Events
What is the Civil Discourse.pdf67 KB
CDL Table Flyer.pdf478 KB
Israel Palestine Program.pdf178 KB
Stories and Voices Addiction Program.pdf5.88 MB
Stories and Voices Immigration.pdf2.14 MB