English, Department of


First Advisor

Dr. Robert Brooke

Second Advisor

Dr. Sarah Thomas

Third Advisor

Dr. Rachael Wendler-Shah

Date of this Version



Legate, Melissa. "Civil Discourse in the Classroom: Preparing for Academic and Civic Participation." University of Nebraska Lincoln, May 2018.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: English, Under the Supervision of Professor Robert Brooke. Lincoln, NE: May 2018

Copyright (c) 2018 Melissa J. Legate


This thesis will explore the importance of civil discourse education. I assert that there is a tremendous need for productive means of disagreement in today’s society, and I propose that the classroom is an ideal setting in which to foster the skills needed for civil discourse. This document features arguments for the need for civil discourse, a detailed definition of it, multiple pedagogical approaches to civil discourse education, and an explanation of the ways in which civil discourse aligns with national- and state-level educational standards. Among this research are also examples of the work of Pierce High School’s English 9 students, who have engaged in instructional methods such as the ones presented.

Advisor: Robert Brooke