Sponsored by the Office of the President, Duquesne University's series on civil discourse explores the importance of respectful dialogue even on challenging topics. This event is presented in partnership with the Division of Student Life and is open to all University students, faculty and staff.

President Ken Gormley, who began the Civil Discourse Series in 2017, has made this event a priority on campus. Learn about previous Civil Discourse events and read Duquesne student insights about the Civil Discourse Series.

“As a Spiritan Catholic University and a valued institution of higher education, we understand the importance of providing a forum in which our campus can respectfully engage in and discuss important and thought-provoking issues."

President Ken Gormley

Previous Civil Discourse Events

Explore coverage of the previous Civil Discourse events hosted by Duquesne University.

With the dramatic increase in antisemitism across the United States, the 2024 civil discourse discussion focused on the timely topic of The Holocaust, Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting and Educating Future Generations.

The event was moderated by Dr. John Mitcham, associate professor and chair of history at Duquesne, and featured the following panelists:

  • Dr. Michael Bernebaum, former project director, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum; director, Sigi Ziering Institute; and distinguished professor of Jewish Studies, American Jewish University

  • Dr. Maggie Feinstein, executive director, 10.27 Healing Partnership.

“This year’s civil discourse topic is particularly relevant to today’s students and our campus community. At Duquesne, our commitment to civil discourse and ethical engagement is core to our identity," said President Ken Gormley.

View the 2024 photo gallery

President Ken Gormley and nationally prominent political figures spoke on the importance of respectable debate at Civil Discourse and Voting in Today’s America, Duquesne’s annual campus-wide event on civil discourse.

Elizabeth Preate Havey, Ken Gormley and Dick Gephardt on stage at Duquesne University

Moderated by Gormley, the forum featured former U.S. Representative Dick Gephardt, a longstanding Democratic member of Congress who served as House Majority Leader, and Elizabeth Preate Havey, a prominent Montgomery County attorney who serves as secretary of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania. Aerion Abney, state representative for the 19th District of Pennsylvania, also delivered a pre-recorded message.

Learn more about the 2023 event.

View the 2023 photo gallery
More than 300 faculty, staff and students packed the Power Center Ballroom to hear leaders of various faiths speak at Civil Discourse, Faith and Community in a Changing Society.Learn more
The second Civil Discourse panel "Modern Media & Civil Discourse: A view from the trenches," was moderated by Betsy Benson, publisher and vice president of Pittsburgh Magazine and featured panelists and journalists Julie Grant of KDKA-TV | CBS Pittsburgh and Julian Routh of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.Learn more
Racial and Cultural Understanding in a New Era was moderated by Esther Bush, president of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, and David Hickton, former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania. 

The first panel, Race and Police: Building Trust in Communities, featured Coleman McDonough, superintendent of Allegheny County Police, and Tracey McCants-Lewis, assistant clinical professor in Duquesne’s School of Law.

The second panel, Muslims, Immigration and the American Dream, featured:

  • Imam AbduSemi’h Tádése, director of religious affairs, Islamic University Center
  • Lawrence M. Lebowitz, chair of immigration group, Cohen & Grigsby, P.C.
  • Dr. Emad Mirmotahari, associate professor of English and African studies in the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts.
Learn more

Student Insights on Previous Civil Discourse Events

Headshot of Duquesne Kline Law student Von Wooding

"The importance of civil discourse lies in its ability to transform conflict into growth, disagreement into understanding, and division into unity. Let us embrace this power to create a world where our differences are celebrated."

Von Wooding, JD, '23 Alumnus, Thomas R. Kline School of Law of Duquesne University
Headshot of Chelsea Bruce

"At the heart of civil discourse are representation and understanding—people with differing opinions and ideals coming together to make change, whether it be an attempt to change the mind of the person at the other end of the conversation or make change for society as a whole. It is integral to our democracy."

Chelsea Bruce '25 2L Law Student, Thomas R. Kline School of Law of Duquesne University
More about Chelsea
Headshot of Braden Niles

"An event like this is so important because addressing the major challenges we face will require bipartisan conversations and reaching out to different communities. Hopefully, it is through events like this that we can realize we have more in common than what sets us apart."

Braden Niles '25 Pre-law student and Catholic Studies, Political Science and Sociology triple major
Headshot of Falco Muscante

"I’m attending the Civil Discourse event because I believe that every idea is valuable and worth hearing in a society like ours that was built on the notion that truth emerges from a marketplace of ideas. I’m so thankful that Duquesne promotes respectful debate on difficult topics that are important to us all."

Falco Muscante, JD, '23 Alumnus, Thomas R. Kline School of Law of Duquesne University
More about Falco