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The Project on Civil Discourse

AU School of Public Affairs fosters civil discourse among students, faculty, staff, and the AU community.

The Project on Civil Discourse

We are the architects of our voices

The American University Project on Civil Discourse encourages and supports students in understanding speech not only as a matter of rights, but of responsibilities, values, and opportunities. It works on the principle that each of us must be the architect of our own voice, choosing to use it in service of our goals and values and in a manner that contributes to our learning community.  

Each voice includes a commitment to listening. Listening is a core competence for scholarship, careers, and life in a community. The way we listen—to understand rather than rebut; to connect rather than combat—also shapes the way we use our voices. The Project on Civil Discourse supports students in developing as listeners and as speakers. It starts with two questions: What do I want for myself? What do I want from myself?

AU's commitment to freedom of speech

Because of our unique role in expanding and challenging previously-understood ideas and teaching young adults to think critically, universities zealously protect freedom of speech — even when, as is the case with American University, we have the institutional power to limit speech based on offensive content. AU policy on freedom of expression.

Lara Schwartz

Message from the Director

The American University Project on Civil Discourse is led by Director Lara Schwartz, who teaches in the AU School of Public Affairs.

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Academic Freedom, Freedom of Expression, and Civil Discourse

A panel on Academic Freedom, Free Expression, and Civil Discourse featuring Lara Schwartz