Constitution Day Dialogue Initiative Resources

Dialogue Guide:  “Census 2020: We all count. But will we all be counted?”
This guide helps students and communities explore the importance of and issues surrounding how we achieve a complete and accurate census count. It provides informational content, instructions for a simple small group dialogue, and dialogue prompts. 

It is based on the Living Room Conversations model, a resource for guides on a range of public issues and topics. This guide was prepared by the Minnesota Higher Education and Census 2020 Network, in partnership with Minnesota Campus Compact. Special thanks to Metropolitan State University graduate interns Ben Baglio and Nima Hussein and the State of Minnesota Demographer’s Office. 

Below are additional resources to support Constitution Day Dialogue Initiative activities. Participating campuses are welcome to use whatever dialogue model works best in their context to address a public issue of their choosing. While the 2020 Census is a suggested topic, there are many other great topics to explore.

Band of Rights is a “production of the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, a grant-based program at American University Washington College of Law.” The website provides more than a dozen teaching modules on the Constitution and current issues—many of them related to schools and/or students.

Better Angels is a citizens’ movement dedicated to reducing political polarization in the United States by bringing liberals and conservatives together for workshops, teaching skills for bridging the partisan divide, and making a strong public argument for depolarization.”

For upcoming public Minnesota Better Angels workshops, visit

Everyday Democracy helps people and organizations build capacity to engage communities in creating change.” In its dialogue-to-change process (formerly known as study circles), “diverse groups of people meet over several weeks, and take part in activities that build trust, provide opportunities to share honestly, learn about an issue and work together on solutions and action.”

  • The website offers an array of discussion guides, how-to handbooks, handouts, worksheets, and reports, also searchable by issue (e.g., education, youth, immigration).

Intergroup Dialogue Resources are available here. Local resource people on this method include Anita Chikkatur of Carleton College. See materials she shared here.

The Fundamentals of Facilitation document from Gustavus Adolphus College shares basic facilitator responsibilities, strategies, and sample ground rules to use and adapt.

Living Room Conversations are a conversational bridge across issues that divide and separate us. They provide an easy structure for engaging in friendly yet meaningful conversation with those with whom we may not agree. These conversations increase understanding, reveal common ground, and sometimes even allow us to discuss possible solutions. No fancy event or skilled facilitator is needed.

Conversation guides available on topics including:

  • To Vote or Not to Vote
  • The America We Want to Be
  • Status and Privilege
  • Guns and Responsibility
  • Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure
  • Democracy, Extremism, and Outliers
  • Healthcare 

The Kettering Foundation and the National Issues Forums (NIF) Institute support deliberative democracy. Many issue guides are available for download, each providing a framework of three options in response to a specific question. “The NIF Framework is essential to the deliberative process. This framework ensures a careful, nonpartisan way of presenting alternative solutions to your group and welcoming their different views.”

OpenMind is a free interactive platform designed to depolarize communities and foster mutual understanding across differences.

More here. 

Discussion prompts for working together from the Civic Engagement Series booklet by Peter Block.

Download prompts here.

“Transformational Intergroup Dialogue Facilitation is  a three-part series designed to help practitioners create effective spaces for learning and authentic engagement across differences based on race, gender, socioeconomic status, religion, ability and sexual orientation.  Transformational Intergroup Dialogue is a social justice education approach which promotes intergroup cooperation and understanding through dialogue.” (The Blue Door Group) 

Learn more and see dates for trainings here.

Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) is a comprehensive, national and community-based process to plan for and bring about transformational and sustainable change, and to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism…. TRHT seeks to unearth and jettison the deeply held, and often unconscious, beliefs created by racism – the main one being the belief in a ‘hierarchy of human value.’”

  • The W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s online Racial Equity Resource Guide includes many resources that are available for download once you create a free account.
  • Hamline University received one of ten TRHT campus center grants from AAC&U; as one of Hamline’s community partners on the project, MNCC will share resources, opportunities, and that emerge from this work.

The Turning Points project, run by the Annette Strauss Institute at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas Young Lawyers Association, looks for new ways to teach and share our Constitutional principles. It introduces young people to the Nation of Questions with a video series and study guides.  The videos and lesson plans highlight Constitutional questions such as: “When is it acceptable for the government to intrude into a person’s private affairs?” or “Should the common good of the nation always trump individual rights?” Ambitiously, we aim to improve civil argument, build a comfort and tolerance for debate and diverse opinions, improve Constitutional knowledge, and support our democratic values.

We the People MN is a collection of individuals who came together out of a commitment to building a pluralistic, multicultural, just, and equitable society by understanding, engaging, and influencing the Constitutional as a living document at work in community life. The information here is based on a series of community self-organized conversations held between November 2016 and April 2017 in Minneapolis where neighbors educated themselves about the Constitution.

See more here. 

  • Episodes of the Washington Post’s Constitutional podcast “explor[e] the Constitution and the people who framed and reframed it—revolutionaries, abolitionists, suffragists, teetotalers, protesters, justices, presidents—in the ongoing struggle to form a more perfect union across a vast and diverse land.”
  • Andrew Seligsohn, president of Campus Compact, gave a TEDx talk, “From Fighting to Problem-Solving,” on the importance of citizens in a democracy finding ways to listen to each other, work together, and find solutions to pressing challenges.
  • Campus Compact of Southern New England provides a list of dialogic terms and examples, as well as links to key resources and organizations focused on public discourse.
  • Students at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University have launched the United Politics group to facilitate depolarizing dialogue on campus.
  • St. Olaf College hosted a dialogue on academic freedom with scholars Deborah Allen and Peter Berkowitz, which you can watch in its entirety.
  • The Colossian Forum’s Respectful Conversation project aims to “point to resources Christians have for working together across political differences that offer an alternative to the current appalling state of political discourse.” The site is moderated by Harold Heie, who previously held leadership positions at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.
  • On Being’s Civil Conversations Project “seeks to renew common life in a fractured and tender world. We are a conversation-based, virtues-based resource towards hospitable, trustworthy relationship with and across difference.” Its resources include “Better Conversations: A Starter Guide.”
  • The Aspen Institute’s Better Arguments Project “was created to explore the core arguments that define American identity.” While it is still in the planning stage, its website shares some related essays and links, including a video of an Aspen Ideas Festival session, “How Colleges Develop Civic Leaders.”
  • Penumbra Theatre is working on a civic engagement campaign, My America: “stories from across the state will be performed live on stage and broadcast across the radio to inspire a more loving, inclusive America.”
  • Augsburg University created a Dialogue Issue Template that can be used for a variety of topics to spark dialogue.

The more students talk about public issues, the higher their voting turnout. The Campus Election Engagement Project has gathered resources for how to conduct respectful and inclusive conversations about important but potentially divisive issues in classrooms.