Applications for both the in-person and online Discussion Project series in 2022-23 are now open!

Please CLICK HERE to visit our Apply page, or scroll down. 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

The Discussion Project (in-person) APPLY HERE

Invitation to Instructors
We are inviting you to participate in the Discussion Project Measures Study for the 2022–23 academic year. The Discussion Project is research study and a three-day professional learning opportunity for UW–Madison instructors, focused on developing skills in leading high-quality small- and large-group discussion in undergraduate and graduate classrooms. Click here for more information. 

Course dates (8:30am-4:30pm)
-August 22, 23, 24 or August 25, 26, 29
-January 12, 13, 17 or January 18, 19, 20

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

  • We accept applications from any university instructor (faculty, academic staff, graduate student).
  • 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 and be teaching an in-person course fall and spring semesters of 2022-23.

If you are not affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and would like to take the Discussion Project course, please visit this website where individuals and institutions may register for a course series.

The Discussion Project Virtual (online): APPLY HERE

The Discussion Project Virtual is not currently part of a research study.

Dates for fall 2022
2022.09A: Tuesdays, 9am-11am: 9/13, 9/20, 9/27, 10/4, 10/11, 10/18, 10/25
2022.09B: Fridays, 10am-12pm: 9/16, 9/23, 9/30, 10/7, 10/14, 10/21, 10/ 28
Participants will meet online in seven 2-hour synchronous sessions on Zoom. Each session is preceded by one hour of asynchronous preparatory work in Canvas.

Who should apply to 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 synchronous sessions.
  • The focus of the course is online synchronous video conference discussion (eg., via Zoom). Skills learned are also relevant to in-person teaching.
If you are not affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and would like to take the Discussion Project course, please visit this website where individuals and institutions may register for a course series.

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

Discussion Project Alumni Receive Distinguished Teaching Awards

Congratulations to the following Discussion Project alumni for receiving a Distinguished Teaching Award! For more information about Distinguished Teaching Awards, visit the Office of the Secretary of the Faculty’s website.

Michael Thornton Majid Sarmadi Nancy Marshall Catalina Toma Rosemary Russ Judith Houck
Sara McKinnon Kate Vieira Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen Juan Egea Joshua Calhoun Jerome Camal
Ajay Sethi Mitra Sharafi Jeremy Morris Yoshiko Herrera Kassem Fawaz Lori Lopez

Affiliation of Participants: 117 Departments and Programs

Accounting and Information Systems Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Civil and Environmental Engineering Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis Geoscience Library and Information Studies Nutritional Sciences Radiology
Aerospace Studies (Air Force ROTC) Bacteriology Civil Society and Community Studies Educational Policy Studies German, Nordic, and Slavic Life Sciences Communication Occupational Therapy
Real Estate and Urban Land Economics
African Cultural Studies Biochemistry Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies Educational Psychology History Management and Human Resources Operations and Information Management
Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education
African Studies Program Biocore Communication Arts Electrical and Computer Engineering Horticulture Marketing Pathobiological Sciences
Religious Studies
Afro-American Studies Biological Systems Engineering Communication Sciences and Disorders Engineering Physics Human Development and Family Studies Materials Science and Engineering Pediatrics
Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Agricultural and Applied Economics Biology Community and Environmental Sociology English Integrated Liberal Studies Mathematics Pharmacy Social Work
Agroecology Biomedical Engineering Computer Sciences Entomology Integrative Biology Mechanical Engineering Philosophy Sociology
American Indian Studies Biostatistics and Medical Informatics Consumer Science Family Medicine Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies Medical History and Bioethics Physical Therapy Soil Science
Animal Sciences Botany Continuing Studies Finance, Investment and Banking International Studies Medical Physics Physics
Spanish and Portuguese
Anthropology Business Counseling Psychology Food Science Jewish Studies Medicine Planning and Landscape Architecture
Special Education
Art Cell and Regenerative Biology Curriculum and Instruction Forest and Wildlife Ecology Journalism and Mass Communication Military Science (Army ROTC) Plant Pathology Statistics
Art Department Center for Asian Studies—South Asian Studies Dairy Science French and Italian Kinesiology Music Political Science
Wisconsin Institute for Science Education and Community Engagement
Art History Chemical and Biological Engineering Dance Gender and Women’s Studies Language Sciences Naval Science (Naval ROTC)
Population Health Sciences
Asian Languages and Cultures Chemistry Design Studies Genetics Law Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies Psychology
Astronomy Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies Economics Geography Legal Studies Nursing Public Affairs