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Digging into Discourse

Digging into Discourse Workshop

Book cover of "Civil Discourse" by Joe Schmidt

What: A 4-part series on teaching contentious topics

WhenKickoff: July 11 (online)
In-Person: July 24 (Madison) or July 25 (Stevens Point)
Online: September 28 & October 10 (online)

Who: K-12 educators looking to support productive discussion in their classroom for topics in social studies, science, environmental education, English language arts, and more!

Registration $30 and includes lunch and copy of the book Civil Discourse. Registration closes July 16. If you need an accommodation, please provide details of your need through the registration process. Questions about accommodations should be routed to

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Image of Joe Schmidt, author of "Civil Discourse"

Joe Schmidt, author of Civil Discourse

Joe Schmidt is the founder of Joe Schmidt Social Studies LLC and has worked in the classroom as a high school teacher and college professor for elementary pre-service teachers. He has also held roles in district and state-level leadership in support of both rural and urban schools.

Throughout his career, Joe has served in a variety of leadership positions with numerous social studies related organizations across the United States including iCivics, Learning for Justice, NCGE, and ThinkerAnalytix and currently serves on the NCSS Board of Directors. Joe is always looking to support organizations that align with his passion for supporting inspiring and impactful educational opportunities for both students and educators. 

You can follow Joe on Twitter @madisonteacher and learn more about him and his work at

Photo of Diana Hess

Diana Hess, author of Controversy in the Classroom

Diana E. Hess is the dean of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin (UW)–Madison and holds the Karen A. Falk Distinguished Chair of Education. Dr. Hess’s research focuses on civic and democratic education. Her first book, Controversy in the Classroom: The Democratic Power of Discussion (Routledge, 2009), won the Exemplary Research Award (2009) from the National Council for the Social Studies. Her second book, co-authored with Professor Paula McAvoy, titled The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education (Routledge, 2015) won the American Educational Research Association’s Outstanding Book Award (2016) and the Grawemeyer Award (2017). Dr. Hess also received the Jean Dresden Grambs Career Research in Social Studies Award from the National Council for the Social Studies (2017). In 2019, Dr. Hess was elected to the National Academy of Education. Her research has been funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Dr. Hess is currently the principal investigator of a multi-year study of The Discussion Project, a professional development program that aims to help instructors create inclusive, engaging, and academically rigorous discussions in higher education courses. Formerly, Dr. Hess was the senior vice president of the Spencer Foundation, a high school teacher, a teachers’ union president, and the associate executive director of the Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago. Dr. Hess received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington, Seattle, in 1998.