Constitution Day Dialogue Campuses

August 6, 2018

2019 Constitution Day Dialogue Initiative Campuses

Often missed on busy calendars, Constitution Day could pass without a lot of thought or fanfare. But this Sept. 17 colleges and universities around the state are using the occasion to recommit to preparing students for effective engagement in democracy through dialogue and deliberation – something that was so critical at our nation’s founding and in the centuries since.

  • Augsburg University will host a dialogue on the 2002 Census. Contact: Elaine Eschenbacher, eschenba {at} augsburg(.)edu
  • Gustavus Adolphus College will host a dialogue on the 2020 Census. Contact: Pam Conners, pconners {at} gustavus(.)edu.
  • Inver Hills Community College will host a dialogue on the 2020 Census. Contact: Shannon Williams, swilliams {at} inverhills(.)edu.
  • Metropolitan State University will host a dialogue on the 2020 Census. Contact: Jodi Bantley, jodi.bantley {at} metrostate(.)edu.
  • Minneapolis College will host a dialogue on the 2020 Census. Contact: Tara Martinez, tara.martinez {at} minneapolis(.)edu.
  • Minnesota State University, Mankato will host a dialogue on the 2020 Census. Contact: Teri Wallace, teresa.wallace {at} mnsu(.)edu.
  • University of Minnesota, Crookston will host a dialogue on the 2020 Census.
  • Simpson College will host a dialogue on religious freedom. Contact: Seth Andersen, seth.andersen {at} simpson(.)edu.
  • South Central College will host a dialogue on the 2002 Census. Contact: Brian Yingst, brian.yingst {at} southcentral(.)edu.
  • St. Catherine University will host a “Shake it up with the Sisters” dialogue on the topic of immigration. Contact: D’Ann Urbaniak Lesch, dulesch {at} stkate(.)edu.
  • St. Cloud State University will host a Constitution Day Dialogue. Contact: Cindy Fitzthum, cjfitzthum {at} stcloudstate(.)edu. Detailed example here. 
  • University of Northern Iowa is hosting dialogues on the topic of school segregation in the United States. Contact: Scott Peters, scott.peters {at} uni(.)edu.
  • Winona State University will host a Constitution Day of Deliberation. Contact: Kara Lindaman, klindaman {at} winona(.)edu.

2018 Constitution Day Dialogue Initiative Campuses

Carleton College will host a dialogue and civic engagement event titled “Stand and Be Counted!”  Students and faculty will speak from diverse perspectives about the particular call to civic engagement made by the Constitution, focusing on the differences between local, state, regional, and national issues as inspiration for individual civic participation. In addition to structured dialogue, the campus will offer voter registration information and tables for student-led political organizations. For more information, contact Susannah Ottaway at sottaway {at} carleton(.)edu.

The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University are hosting a discussion on “Do I Count? Does My Vote Count?” featuring a panel discussion and participant dialogue. The program is framed in part by the data that “about three dozen House races considered competitive this year were won in 2016 by margins smaller than the number of college students living in the district,” and “abysmally low turnout among young people has long been a hallmark of American elections, particularly in midterm years. Data suggests that only 18 percent voted in 2014, compared with about 37 percent in the overall population.” (New York Times, March 3, 2018). For more information, contact Sheila Hellerman at shellerman {at} csbsju(.)edu.

The Gustavus Adolphus College Public Deliberation and Dialogue (PDD) program supports students, the campus, and local communities in engaging great challenges, coming to evidence-based decisions, and fostering change. For Constitution Day, student fellows will facilitate a deliberation on campus in which students, faculty, and staff can explore the challenges and opportunities of democratic engagement. The PDD program also designed and will be facilitating a deliberation on soil issues in conjunction with Gustavus’ Nobel Conference. For more information, contact Pamela Conners at pconners {at} gustavus(.)edu.

Metropolitan State University will host a dialogue on “The Politics of Inclusion and Exclusion: The Impact of Legal, Political and Cultural Norms on Voting” led by Matt Filner utilizing the We the People framework. It will be open the university community and the public, as well as participating courses. For more information, contact Jodi Bantley at Jodi.Bantley {at} metrostate(.)edu.

Minneapolis College will host a Coffee & Culture dialogue focused on elections & voting on Tuesday, Sept. 25. The campus will also disseminate information and resources during Constitution Week and National Voter Registration Day, events that will lead up to one or more candidate forum later in the fall. For more information, contact Tara Martinez at Tara.Martinez {at} minneapolis(.)edu.


Minnesota State University, Mankato* will host educational and dialogue on freedom of speech and the “Consitution and You” to develop a greater awareness that all constituents on campus hold an interest in community and civic engagement. For more information, contact Karen Anderson at Karen.anderson {at} mnsu(.)edu.


North Hennepin Community College* will be hosting a series of campus dialogues to define a set of Food Access Values specific to the NHCC community. The diverse, unique, and resilient network of student leaders at North Hennepin Community College are committed creating innovative solutions to vexing problems and plan to use these dialogues as a jumping off place to support the campus leadership team as they work to incorporate these values into a comprehensive strategic plan. For more information, contact Jamie Randall at JRandall {at} nhcc(.)edu.


South Central College* South Central College is hosting Civic Workshop from Noon – 1 pm at both of its campuses in the Event Center (A105) on the Faribault Campus and Conference Center C on the North Mankato Campus. The topic of the workshop is “Our Environment,” which was selected by SCC students to encourage respectful discussion on an issue important to all.  The workshop is designed to show that while we are all different, we all are part of the community that needs to grow together.  Everyone is welcome and lunch will be free for those who participate. With questions, contact Brian Yingst at Brian.Yingst {at} southcentral(.)edu.

Southwest Minnesota State University will host a series of programs surrounding Constitution Day, including campus dialogue on “The Constitution in Contemporary Times” and “Food Insecurity: Let’s Unlock the Stigma,” as part of a larger Lunch & Learn series. Students and community members can also enjoy the Black Box SMSU Theatre Production “Constitution Day Revue” and access Constitution and voter registration information through outreach activities. For more information, contact Melissa Scholten at civic.engagement {at} smsu(.)edu.


St. Catherine University’s* Center for Community Work and Learning, in partnership with the Communications Studies Department will host Constitution Day movie and dialogue about voting rights and the history of women’s suffrage to encourage increased voter knowledge and access. For more information, contact D’Ann Urbaniak-Lesch at dulesch {at} stkate(.)edu.

St. Cloud State University faculty from the Department of Communication Studies and the Social Studies Education Program will invite students in their courses to examine issues and ideas related to the Constitution. Using deliberative dialogue as a framework for discussion, students will explore the role of communication in finding and creating common ground necessary for sustaining a vibrant democracy. For more information, contact Marla Kanengieter-Wildeson at mkanengieter {at} stcloudstate(.)edu.

St. Olaf College’s* Academic Civic Engagement office, Institute for Freedom and Community, and students in the Constitutional Law course will partner with community organizations to offer several pathways for practicing civic dialogue, starting with Constitution Day Coffees and subsequent Better Angels political depolarization workshops. Student facilitator training will take place on September 14 and campus-wide programming on Constitution Day, September 17.  For more information, contact Alyssa Herzog Melby at melby1 {at} stolaf(.)edu.

Winona State University* will pilot a deliberative dialogue using the updated National Issues Forum guide “A Political Fix” to engage citizens in a new way to talk about complex and difficult issues. Events will take place on September 17, Constitution Day, and September 25, National Voter Registration Day, with the goal of contributing to larger NSLVE data-driven efforts to increase voter registration and turnout in 2018. For more information, contact Kara Lindaman at klindaman {at} winona(.)edu.

*These campuses received $250 mini-grants from Minnesota Campus Compact to support their Constitution Day Dialogue projects.

Find more information on the Constitution Day Dialogue Initiative here, or contact Sinda Nichols at sinda {at} mncampuscompact(.)org.