The application for The Discussion Project Virtual fall series is now open!

If you would like to apply a The Discussion Project course, please visit our application page. More

The aim of this professional development series is to strengthen our campus-wide capacity to create welcoming, engaging, and academically rigorous classroom environments in which students experience productive classroom discussions on important issues and topics.

Our Mission

Engaging discussions are one of the most rewarding and memorable activities that students and faculty alike can experience in the classroom. Recent research shows that classroom discussion deepens learning, creates community, and helps students form an academic identity.

At the same time, classroom discussion is a challenging pedagogical undertaking. It requires the instructor to orchestrate learning among a group of students who likely do not know each other, come from a diversity of backgrounds, possess a range of political commitments, arrive with varying levels of familiarity with the course material, and have different levels of comfort speaking in class.

Inviting students to discuss also comes with some risk because we don’t know what students are going to say. That unknown means that the instructor will have to be ready to follow one student’s interesting and unexpected line of thought, correct another’s misunderstanding about the material, and also be prepared to respond to any number of possibly off-topic, inappropriate, hostile, or naïve comments.

To address these promises and challenges, the School of Education has designed a professional development program for UW faculty and teaching staff. See the Program Overview page for more details.


I was fortunate to take part in your training last month. I am not exaggerating when I say it has changed my life. I am teaching a 15-person and a 50-person undergraduate course this term, and I am using the skills you taught me each class session. It has made me think differently about my teaching and I am quite sure the students’ experience is all the better for it.

Thank you! You all are providing a fantastic service.

-Professor Kathy Cramer, Political Science, UW-Madison

Who should apply to The Discussion Project In-Person course?

  • We accept applications from any university instructor (faculty, academic staff, TA).

  • The course is most applicable to those teaching face-to-face classes with fewer than 40 students.

  • In order to be eligible, applicants must be available to attend all full-day sessions.

Application: Our next in-person course series will run in January 2022. Please visit our application page starting in October 2020.

Who should apply to the The Discussion Project Virtual online course?

  • We accept applications from any university instructor (faculty, academic staff, TA).

  • The course is most applicable to those teaching  online classes with fewer than 40 students.

  • In order to be eligible, applicants must be available to attend all full-day sessions.

  • The focus of the course is online synchronous video conference discussion (via Zoom or Teams)  and is also relevant to in-person teaching.

Application: Click here to apply for a fall 2021 series.

Cohort 2021.09: FRIDAYS 12pm-2pm: Sept 10, 17, 24; Oct 1, 8, 15, 22

Cohort 2021.10: FRIDAYS 1pm-3pm: Oct 22, 29; Nov 5, 12, 19; Dec 3, 10

Media Highlights



“The Discussion Project was, by far, the best teaching workshop I’ve experienced. Not only did we receive new tools for facilitating discussion, we also got practice using them. The workshop was especially helpful for learning how to hold discussions on controversial political and ethical issues, how and when to share my own views as an instructor, and how to create the right mix of comfort and discomfort in the classroom.”

– Andy D., Department of Geography