KDS Forums Offer Space for Civil Discourse

While our classrooms provide frequent opportunities for respectful and productive discussions across many disciplines, Kent Denver's history department realizes that many students have a desire to engage more deeply with issues and topics related to the 2020 presidential election.

To support that interest and help educate this next generation of voters, history teachers have created Kent Denver Forums—optional, after-school gatherings that will allow students to discuss a series of issues related to the upcoming election.

"The goal of these Forums is to help promote civil discourse at Kent Denver and to give students a place to practice disagreement and to share ideas in a safe environment," explains History Department Chair Ginna Halverson. "We also want to promote civic engagement and literacy about this and future elections."

Last week, several upper-schoolers participated in a trial KDS Forum that focused on the pros and cons of the Electoral College. After reading articles with competing viewpoints and agreeing to pre-established discussion norms (see below), students discussed the merits of our presidential selection process and the impact it has on U.S. elections.

On September 23, a Forum will be held during the Upper School common off period and will address the importance of a Supreme Court nomination to this year's election. Future KDS Forums might address issues such as religious liberty, gun control, climate change, systemic racism, money in politics, police reform, federalism and/or the pandemic.

"We want students to know that it's okay to share their political opinions with their peers," says History Teacher and Debate Coach Mike Bausch. "Providing an atmosphere that encourages respect towards each other is the ultimate goal, and gives students a model for what civil discourse should look like."

KDS Forum Norms

We ask that you agree to these norms for discussion if you choose to participate:

  • Listen for understanding
  • Everyone should get an equal chance to speak
  • Assume good will and suspend judgement when listening
  • If something offends/bothers you say so, and explain why
  • Focus disagreement/challenges on what is being said, not the person

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