Constitution Day Dialogue Initiative

Constitution Day is Tuesday, September 17, 2019. We invite Campus Compact member campuses to participate in this initiative to increase dialogue and deliberation about complex public issues. To participate, campuses agree to facilitate a dialogue exercise of some kind during the week of Constitution Day.

While campuses can opt to organize a dialogue about an issue of their choosing, Minnesota Campus Compact, in partnership with Metropolitan State University students, developed a freely-accessible Living Room Conversations guide,  “Census 2020: We all count. But will we all be counted?”  Participating campuses can use this activity, if desired. Another timely topic of interest may be voting rights, as part of the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in 2020. Campuses may also host dialogues about a range of other public issues informed by the Constitution. We will collect and share dialogue resources on our website, including examples of what other campuses have done in the past.

About Constitution Day

All educational institutions that receive Federal funds are required to hold an educational program about the U.S. Constitution for its students. According to the U.S. Senate, Constitution Day was established “to encourage all Americans to learn more about the Constitution.”  Congress established Constitution Week in 1956 “to begin each year on September 17th, the date in 1787 when delegates to the Convention signed the Constitution. In 2004, Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia included key provisions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of Fiscal Year 2005 designating September 17th of each year as Constitution Day and requiring public schools and governmental offices to provide educational programs to promote a better understanding of the Constitution.”

Why Dialogue

In a context of polarization and distrust, conversations about shared values and our nation’s founding documents are deeply important for developing collaborative relationships, Constitutional knowledge, civic agency, and our democracy’s future. Over the last year, Minnesota Campus Compact (MNCC) has worked with campus leaders and community partners to launch a series of local dialogues across the state with the goal of increasing students’ capacities to listen respectfully to the ideas of others and engage in both constructive and critical discussion of public questions.

Planned Activities

Each participating college or university determines its specific plans. Dialogues are organized using whatever dialogue models and addressing whatever specific topics the local team determines is best. Read more about each participating campus’s plans here.