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Democracy & Debate Theme Semester

This university-wide educational initiative will engage with students, faculty, and staff on an exploration of free speech and exchange of ideas, what it means to be a member of a democratic society, and democratic engagement from a global perspective.

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BIG 10 voting challenge

Your Voice. Your Vote.

Launched in 2017, the Big Ten Voting Challenge is a nonpartisan initiative created to spur civic engagement and encourage more students across the Big Ten to head to the polls on Election Day. Each of the 14 schools within the Big Ten Conference are competing in the challenge.

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Democracy Cafe

Communicate. Learn. Understand

Democracy Cafés celebrate the ability of people to meet in public spaces to exchange ideas, engaging each other both socially and intellectually.

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Featured Event

A Conversation with Trevor Noah

The University Musical Society (UMS), in partnership with the University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and the Democracy & Debate Theme Semester, is thrilled to announce that Daily Show star Trevor Noah will join the U-M community for a casual and interactive conversation on this pivotal moment that reflects both adversity and possibility. This is a virtual event for the UMS and U-M community

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Faculty Expert

H. Luke Shaefer

Researcher and director of Poverty Solutions The Cares Act has been successful in reducing poverty, amid an economic collapse, and shows the benefits of a strong safety net. It wasn’t perfect, but hands down it’s the most successful thing we’ve ever done in negating hardship New York Times

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a portrait of Angela Dillard
What makes Democracy & Debate distinctive is not only the contributions from across the university, but also the connection to the presidential election season and watch parties for the debates. This gives us the potential to have conversations that span the campus, the state and the globe. We’ve never had a theme semester with this kind of reach.
- Angela Dillard, Professor, U-M College of Literature, Science, and the Arts Chair, Presidential Debate Academic Advisory Committee