Supporting Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement during Constitution Week (September 14 – 18)

With The People Series | Voting Resources | Personal Learning as Part of Educational Development

Engaging in our democracy is both a right and responsibility. Despite the words of our founders, the United States has not considered “all men equal” under the eyes of the law. Both women and communities of color have had to fight to secure their rights to vote. In the last written words of the late John Lewis, “The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.” (Lewis, 2020)

Recognizing the power of voting and civic learning as tools in bringing about a more equity-minded society, Minnesota State is offering several opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to engage in practices designed to improve the functioning of our democracy during today’s polarized times.

With the People Series

An initiative of the National Issues Forum Institute
Fostering Deliberation Across Differences

Based on the idea that democracy is strengthened when citizens, institutions, and governments find ways to talk and work with each other, With the People will provide resources to foster deliberative discussions to interested campus groups. Deliberative discussions of the issues that impact our lives make a profound contribution to our capacity to do just that.

In this initiative, a key role of each of our organizations is to communicate widely through our own networks about opportunities to participate in classroom, campus, and community deliberations on one or more of the following issues:


Anyone with a StarID is welcome to sign up to participate in any of ten statewide forums:


Common Ground for Action (text-based) Forum:
*Limited space available*

Zoom Forum:

Free Speech

Common Ground for Action (text-based) Forum:
*Limited space available*

Zoom Forum:


Common Ground for Action (text-based) Forum:
*Limited space available*

Zoom Forum:


All materials are freely available for use in-person or in online platforms that support either face-to-face or text-based deliberation. Moderators are available to help facilitate custom forums limited to a particular course, group, campus, or topic; please contact Teri Hinds for assistance.

Voting Resources

Minnesota State Office of the General Council

  • Politics and Speech on Campus
    Join the Office of General Counsel and Office of Equity and Inclusion’s next Zoom-based legal seminar, available to campus administrators, faculty, and staff at no charge for a refresher regarding issues that arise on campus in the election season. Topics include engaging the campus community in election-related activities, free speech, and avoiding legal pitfalls.

Thursday, September 10, 2020 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

To Join from Zoom:

Go to

Login with your StarID and Password and enter the meeting id: 931 3303 2959

If prompted enter passcode: 354189

To Join by Phone:

Dial +1 312 626 6799

Meeting ID: 931 3303 2959

A NED Affiliated Series:

Personal Learning as Part of Educational Development

Shifting the Conversation from Debate to Dialogue – Round Table Structured Discussions

These sessions will focus on and discuss the difference between debate and dialogue. Participants will practice using debate and dialogue when in conversation with one another. We will discuss each approach and how and why to encourage dialogue in the classroom.

These are introductory sessions for those who have avoided conflict or disagreement in their classrooms/group meetings or who have had conversations go poorly. The sessions will provide example language to use with students and advice on how to set guidelines that allow for respectful communication across viewpoints. The sessions will also identify techniques that can be used to return students to a dialogue if the conversation begins to veer in a disrespectful direction.

Recognizing Political Affiliation as a Social Identity – Round Table Structured Discussions

One reason political conversations have become so difficult in the last couple decades is that political identity, for many, is tied to social identities. For some, political identity is as rooted as one’s race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. This session takes that reality seriously and asks participants to consider how political identity is formed through socialization processes. Participants will complete a timeline of their own political socialization. First, they will determine how they identify politically. Then, they will map how they came to that identity over the course of their lifetime. By sharing their own timelines of political identity with one another, participants come to better understand the experiences and forces that shape our political identities and what may have led someone to adopt a different political identity than themselves.

This approach allows us to suspend discussion of specific policies or even individual impact of political decisions to first understand why others may see politics differently than ourselves. This session will be best suited for those with some existing practice facilitating potentially controversial conversations.

Questions about With The People Series? Contact Teri Hinds.

Questions about Personal Learning as Part of Educational Development? Contact Catherine Ford.

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