A panel of students grin and lean forward into microphones.


Parrhesia Program for Public Discourse

Rooted in the University of Chicago Principles of Free Expression, the Parrhesia Program for Public Discourse offers an innovative undergraduate curriculum in the theory and practice of public discourse and deliberation. Parrhesia, to speak freely and openly, signifies the Program’s commitment to open and vigorous civic deliberation and dialogue. Theory-driven as well as practice-oriented, the Parrhesia Program offers courses and programming that aim to develop communicative competence and foster vigorous, inclusive, and productive public discourse within a wide variety of communities.

Quick Links

Parrhesia Curriculum

This course emphasizes clear, direct, and concise presentation of complex, specialized, or controversial ideas to different audiences. Through theory, exercises, and practice, this course prepares students to communicate in a variety of academic, professional, and civic contexts.

A critical examination of historical and contemporary political discourse helps illuminate how symbols create meaning and shape political positions as well as policy decisions. Through rhetorical theory and analysis of oral, written, and digital public communication aimed at influencing social, political, legal, and religious issues and institutions, the course will explore topics such as the role of power and identity in political communication, the ethical dimension of public discourse, and the concept of a free and open public sphere. Readings, discussions, case studies, and analytic assignments focus on the critically examination and production of effective public discourse.

Rhetorical theory and analysis of political discourse provides a foundation for active engagement with the political rhetoric of 2020 Presidential Primary. Readings, case studies, discussions, and assignments will prepare students to examine and synchronously produce campaign communication, such as speeches, social media posts, and communication plans, in response to the events of the 2020 Presidential Primary.

An unprecedented Democratic primary and nomination sets the stage for the 59th U.S. Presidential election. Through a ring lecture, this course will examine the presidential campaign, election, and its immediate aftermath from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Each week, a lecture delivered by faculty and other experts will be followed by a discussion section to integrate and synthesize the lectures, course materials, the election process, relevant current events, and the evolving campaigns. Students will be responsible for readings, written analysis assignments, and preparing for and actively participating in each week’s lecture and discussion.

Utilizing theory, case studies, and effective practices of civic discourse, students design and test frameworks to educate and engage communities with controversial issues.

Information coming…

Persuasion is foundational to the human experience and shapes our lives—personal, professional, and political. Communication skills are also highly correlated with college and professional success: critical thinking, argument, writing, perspective-taking, and research skills are all foundational to a liberal arts education and life beyond college. The objective of this course is to help students develop these essential skills through an introduction to the principles and practices of public advocacy, argument, and speaking.


  • Attentive students sit in a row at a table, with laptops and water bottles.


    Engage with guests on issues surrounding free expression.

  • Students sitting at individual tablet arm chairs look attentive.

    Student Advisory Board

    Help develop and coordinate Parrhesia programming.