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Summer Seminars

Teaching Civil Discourse in the Classroom: A Seminar for Faculty

Session 1
Instructors: John Rose (Duke) and Nasser Hussain (Duke)
Dates: May 20–22, 2024

Session 2

Instructors: John Rose (Duke) and Jennifer Smith (Pepperdine)
Dates: June 10–12, 2024

The Civil Discourse Project is pleased to announce a call for applications for the third annual faculty summer seminar, “Teaching Civil Discourse in the Classroom,” made possible by a generous grant from The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. Our 2022 seminar was featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education. In 2024, participants will have the option of attending either our May or June sessions. Each seminar will include 20 faculty from a variety institutions and backgrounds. The two-day seminar, to be held at Duke, will be led by John Rose, Jennifer Smith, and Nasser Hussain. It will cover topics including potential course content and best practices for effectively promoting civil discussion about sensitive topics in the classroom. There will also be general group discussion of issues surrounding civil discourse in higher education. The seminar will help prepare professors to teach a course based on CDP’s own highly popular class at Duke, “How to Think in an Age of Political Polarization” (HTAPP).

The seminar will be free of charge with food, lodging, and flights covered. Participants will stay at the beautiful JB Duke Hotel on Duke’s campus. In order to participate, applicants must agree to teach a course similar to Duke’s HTAPP within three semesters of finishing the seminar. Participants will receive a stipend of $5,000 ($4,000 upon completion of the seminar and $1,000 upon teaching their class at their own institution). Successful applicants will need to acquire written approval from their department chair or dean allowing them to teach such a course within that timeframe. In addition, participants will agree to participate in a Zoom follow-up meeting within three semesters of the summer seminar, where they will present the results of their course.

Applications will be handled on a rolling basis, with a deadline of April 15. Materials can be emailed to Abby Van Vliet ( and should include the following attachments:

1) CV/Resume
2) 1-2 page statement explaining one’s interest in the seminar
3) Any other relevant documentation, including relevant course syllabi, publications, etc.

For questions concerning the seminar or application, or to request a copy of last year's seminar agenda, please email John Rose (


Medical Ethics Summer Seminar

Faculty: Farr Curlin, MD (Duke University) and Christopher Tollefsen, PhD (University of South Carolina), co-authors of The Way of Medicine: Ethics and the Healing Profession
Dates: June 13–15, 2024
Location: Duke University, Durham, NC

Apply now to participate in the 2024 Medical Ethics Summer Seminar sponsored by the Civil Discourse Project at Duke University. This seminar is designed for physicians-in-training and is open also to nurses and other health professions students.

The seminar invites students to examine the central ethical questions that arise in the everyday practice of medicine and to interpret those questions through a moral framework drawing from both natural law and medicine’s traditional orientation toward the patient’s health. This framework will be contrasted with principlism and consequentialism as participants consider what sort of practice medicine is, whether it has a rational end or goal, and how medicine contributes to human flourishing.

The seminar also will consider clinical cases to examine ethical concerns that arise perennially in the practice of medicine, including: the nature of the clinician-patient relationship; the limits of medicine, the meaning of autonomy, the place of conscience in the physician’s work, the difference between an intended effect and a side effect, proportionality, human dignity, sexuality and reproduction, the beginning of life, disability, end-of-life care, and death. The seminar aims to equip participants with intellectual tools that can help them discern how to practice medicine well in the face of medicine’s clinical challenges and moral complexities.

Participants’ only cost is getting themselves to Durham, NC, arriving by end of day on June 12 to check into rooms provided in the Duke dormitories, and returning after the seminar ends at midday on June 15. All further costs are covered by the Civil Discourse Project through the generosity of its supporters.

This seminar is open to rising and current medical students or residents, as well as other health professions students. We encourage those interested to apply early, as applications are accepted on a rolling basis, and the seminar is limited to 22 participants.

All applicants must submit the following via e-mail to Abby Van Vliet at

1) CV or resume, including your nationality.
2) Cover letter discussing the reasons for your interest in the seminar and an overview of any relevant experience in the seminar’s topic. Please tell us how you found out about the seminar.