The Quality Conversations Project for America’s Colleges

The Quality Conversations Project for America’s Colleges

Creating a Culture of Dialogue on America’s College Campuses

Did You Know?

Higher education is facing increasing scrutiny about how to effectively manage contentious social issues on campus. These social issues range widely but often include conflicts related to free speech and institutionalized racism. In recent years, some of these conflicts have escalated to massive student protests, media attention, and even violence. Consider these facts and how they are affecting higher education culture today:

  • Student protesting on college campuses is at the highest level it has been since the 1960s
  • There is increasing political pressure for colleges and universities to uphold free speech or risk losing federal funding 
  • Higher education institutions are spending huge amounts of money to maintain safety when controversial speakers come to campus
  • College students are increasingly feeling like hurtful or controversial speech should not be protected on campus 
  • The political polarization and divisiveness that has been growing in the U.S. for the past 25 years is increasingly manifesting on college campuses
What We Can Do to Help:

Public Agenda is one of the nation’s leading expert organizations in how to engage diverse stakeholders about pressing social issues. The Quality Conversations Project supports colleges in proactively addressing contentious, charged issues through research, dialogue, and action. We work with higher education partners to create transformative change about

  • National controversies that are also manifest on campus – such as immigration
  • Local problems on campus – such as free speech conflicts or student homelessness
  • Campus-community challenges - such as escalating opioid use or housing affordability
Our Approach

We customize our design for each campus, but our approaches to engagement include:


We can help you understand what issues are bubbling up on your campus and how people are feeling about engaging with each other. Research can include campus engagement and climate surveys, student-led research, focus groups, and key stakeholder interviews.



We can integrate face to face dialogue with technology so that you maximize the number of people sharing information and engaging in conversation. Technology can include civic apps, digital surveys, or video reporting.



We support you in building long-term capacity for difficult conversations. Capacity building includes trainings related to facilitation, dialogue design, and large scale engagement.



We act as coaches as you carry out difficult campus or community conversations, supporting you to plan engagement events, recruit participants, and bring diverse stakeholders together to talk in respectful ways.



We provide tools for campus engagement, such as tested or customized discussion guides and assessment tools.




We play the long game, making sure that your campus connects dialogue to action and creates teams to implement and sustain the work.



Getting Started

If you would like to work with Public Agenda, please contact us below to set up a time to talk. We can help you collect data about how people are feeling about a particular issue on your campus. We also can help you learn how to design and facilitate cross-cutting campus or community dialogues, and move from talk to action. 

Contact Quixada Moore-Vissing, PhD for more information at or by calling us at (212) 686-6610

What People Are Saying: