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.

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Parrhesia Curriculum

Theory, exercises, and practice prepare students to communicate complex or controversial ideas clearly, directly, and concisely in a variety of academic, professional, and civic contexts.

Utilizing rhetorical theory, students will analyze and create oral, written, and digital presidential primary campaign communication. Through readings, discussions, case studies, and analytic assignments, students critically examine and produce effective campaign discourse.

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

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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.

    Lecture Series

    Engage with guests on issues surrounding free expression.

  • Students sit across from one another at a table, with laptops and notebooks, engaging in lively discussion.

    Free Expression Conference

    Participate in the Free Expression and Election 2020 (coming spring 2020).

  • Students sitting at individual tablet arm chairs look attentive.

    Student Advisory Board

    Help develop and coordinate Parrhesia programming.