Learn how to support K-16 students, faculty, and staff to engage in discourse across political and other forms of difference.

Fostering Conversations in Polarized Times is designed for K-12 and higher education educators, administrators, and leaders from all disciplinary backgrounds looking to deepen their understanding of issues surrounding civic discourse in educational settings. During this one-day program, learn from experts around the importance of supporting difficult conversations in polarized times and ways to address the challenges this presents. Along the way, work closely with small groups of peers to examine shared challenges from your professional work and connect with and learn from a professional network that shares your commitment to this important and complex work.

What Sets Us Apart

  Focus on contemporary challenges and opportunities around discussion and polarization
  Connect and learn with a network of peers who share your commitment to sustaining civic discourse in schools
 Gain actionable strategies to implement in your professional context

About the Program

In an increasingly polarized world where political division and echo chamber discourse are on the rise, supporting students to engage with one another across their differences is more important than ever. But how do educators begin to address the many challenges this work presents?

Program Length:1 day


  • Penn GSE Certificate of Participation
  • Act 48 credits for Pennsylvania educators

Format:In-person at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Ideal Candidates:

  • K-12 teachers and administrators
  • Instructional leaders (e.g., coaches, mentors, PD leaders)
  • Higher education teachers and administrators
  • Individuals interested in supporting civic discourse in educational spaces
Programs for Working Professionals

Through a one-day, in-person convening at the University of Pennsylvania, participants from all disciplinary backgrounds will have opportunities to explore the theory and practice of this topic, addressing questions such as:

  • What is civic discourse and why is it critical in a democratic society?
  • How do I draw the line around charged discussion and harmful speech?
  • How do I communicate with stakeholders (parents, media, students, faculty)?
  • How do I prepare students to have difficult conversations?
  • How do I support teachers in facilitating difficult conversations?

Participants will have the opportunity to learn from Penn GSE faculty who specialize in civic discourse in K-12 and university classrooms and administration, as well as from fellow practitioners who will serve as a community of practice for continued support and collaboration.

Program Leadership & Staff

Dr. Taylor Hausburg
Program Director
Teacher Program Lead, Penn GSE Center for Professional Learning

Christopher Pupik Dean
Academic Director

Our Faculty

Penn GSE Faculty Sigal Ben-Porath
MRMJJ Presidential Professor
Ph.D., Tel Aviv University
Penn GSE Faculty Matthew Kay
Penn GSE Faculty Abby Reisman
Associate Professor
Ph.D., Stanford University
Penn GSE Faculty Jonathan Zimmerman
Judy and Howard Berkowitz Professor in Education
Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University

Our Co-Sponsor

We are proud to partner with the SNF Paideia Program at the University of Pennsylvania. SNF Paideia is designed to provide all Penn undergraduates with the knowledge, skills, and ethical frameworks necessary to be informed, engaged, and effective community members, and to lead fulfilling and integrated personal, professional, and civic lives. 

What Alumni Are Saying About Similar Programs

“It has given me a whole new way to think about how to help my students learn.”

“This program is extremely creative, thought provoking, and relevant. There are very few programs like this out there.”

“I feel reenergized after participating.”