Civil discourse, democracy the focus of a free talk February 7, 2024 Democracy and civil discourse expert Nancy Thomas will give a free talk at UW-Stevens Point on Feb. 21. A senior adviser to the president for democracy initiatives will give a talk at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point next month. Nancy Thomas will present “Discourse, Speech, Inclusion and the Future of our Democracy” at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 21, in the Alumni Room of the Dreyfus University Center, 1015 Reserve St., Stevens Point. The talk is free and open to the public. It is a rescheduling from a date during the fall semester. Thomas will discuss the current state of civil discourse in the United States, the challenges and opportunities facing educational institutions in promoting democratic values and practices and how to encourage civil discourse in classrooms and in public. Thomas is the founding director of the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education at the American Association of Colleges and Universities in Washington, DC. Thomas designed and launched the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement, the nation’s largest study of student participation in elections and democracy. Her research interests and advocacy include student learning for and institutional engagement in democracy, closing equity gaps in voting, campus climates for student political learning and participation, political discussion in and beyond the classroom, free speech and inclusion, academic freedom and higher education’s role in democracy. In addition to advising the president, she is an author and editor of multiple book chapters, papers, articles and collections on higher education’s role in democracy. She holds a law degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Law and a doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The presentation is sponsored by the Office of the Chancellor, Division of Student Affairs, Division of Academic Affairs, School of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Department of Political Science and the Menard Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation.