Video of WeTalk 4th Anniversary Video

About us

The purpose of We Talk is to foster a culture of responsible and respectful civic, social, political and policy engagement. We seek to raise awareness about free speech protections and promote the value of respecting viewpoint diversity as part of the academic setting and learning environment. Our programming provides tools and resources for campus and community members to learn and practice skills to effectively engage in difficult conversations with people who hold differing perspectives and points of view. Program development is guided by the principles and practices of Heterodox Academy, which is focused on improving the quality of research and education in universities by increasing open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement. Your donation can help provide vital support to this initiative. Donate to We Talk.


This March, Trustee Emeritus George Franklin unveiled the deeply personal journey behind the Wall Street Journal's headline sensation, "She Talked Like a Millionaire, Slept in a Parking Garage and Fooled Nearly Everyone". He shared the heart-wrenching narrative of his late sister and her struggle with homelessness, shedding light on the complex realities often obscured by societal misconceptions.

In an enlightening discussion, WSJ reporter Jon Kamp provided invaluable insights drawn from his extensive reporting on homelessness, mental health, and substance use disorders. This discussion helped unravel the intricate layers of this pressing issue, confronting the harsh truths while fostering understanding and compassion. 

Kalamazoo Mayor Anderson, along with esteemed professors from the School of Social Work, Dr. Shane Brady and Dr. Don Cooney (also serving as City Commissioner for Kalamazoo), joined our endeavor. As the rate of homelessness escalates in Kalamazoo, it's imperative to challenge prevailing narratives and confront the underlying issues head-on. We embarked on a journey of empathy, education, and advocacy, guided by firsthand accounts, journalistic expertise, and the collective wisdom of community leaders and experts. Together, we can strive for meaningful change and support those most in need within our city.

U.S. Assistant secretary for indian affairs bryan newland

WMU was honored to host Mr. Bryan Newland (Ojibwe), Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Interior on April 13, 2023. Mr. Newland is a citizen of the Bay Mills Indian Community in northern Michigan, where he served as Tribal President from 2017 to 2021. 

Mr. Newland works to strengthen the government-to-government and nation-to-nation relationships with American Indian and Alaska Native tribes. In his visit to WMU he spoke about how the traditional Seven Grandfathers teaching has guided his work in public service and helped him to engage across diverse communities. 

Video of We Talk with Bryan Newland, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs

Diversity Without Division

Moral Courage College came to campus on March 21st and 22nd for a thought-provoking, interactive and engaging experience that delves into the heart of what it means to build a culture of belonging. Diversity Without Division™ is a uniquely unifying strategy and toolkit for inclusion. It uses brain science to foster empathy so that differences can be explored in ways that bring people together.

Meet our Moral Courage Mentor: Allison Gerrard

Allison Gerrard is the Director of Education for the Moral Courage Project. There, she trains and certifies professionals to teach diversity without division in their own workplaces. A scholar of behavioral science, she led the Hidden Talents Lab in the psychology department at the University of Utah, where her team studied the skills that young people develop in the face of adversity. Now, as a certified Moral Courage Mentor, she equips people in business, higher ed, and K-12 schools to communicate productively about polarizing issues. 

Re-stitching the fabric of our democracy for the 21st century

Video of WeTalk - Re-Stitching the Fabric of our Democracy for the 21st Century
The founding leaders of Interfaith America, author Eboo Patel, and Manu Meel of BridgeUSA, came to campus October 5 and 6 to share how their organizations work with institutions and individuals to build a more diverse and just democracy. They hosted student-focused events and a campus/community conversation. Learn what these national civic leaders had to say about how to strengthen the social fabric of our campus and community.


Collaboration, compromise happens with civility  

Video of WeTalk - Civility in Government
WMU We Talk hosted a stop on U.S. Congressional Representative Debbie Dingell and Fred Upton's Civility Tour at Heritage Hall on August 1. President Edward Montgomery served as the moderator of an engaging and enlightening conversation about how the two members of the Problem Solvers Caucus have reached across the aisle in recent years to pass important legislation and foster civility.

Free speech cafes

Informal panel discussions about free speech rights and responsibilities that are video recorded for future use! Cafés are typically hosted by a moderator and 2-3 panelists, who take questions from the audience. All cafes are eligible for Signature credit in the Civic Engagement pathway. Visit the Cafés webpage to access event information and recordings.


Moving Conversations at WMU event Dec. 10

Learn to be a better listener in this 40-minute, script-guided exercise between two people designed to facilitate compassion and connection. Developed by Dr. Doug Lepisto, the exercise is built upon principles of positive psychology and can be facilitated in classes, with groups and at home with family and friends. Learn more.


WMU, We Talk and the Fetzer Institute look forward to welcoming author and national interfaith leader Eboo Patel to Kalamazoo on Thursday, Oct. 6. Join us in reading his May-released book, "We Need to Build: Fieldnotes For Diverse Democracy," in preparation for a public presentation on Oct. 6. Thank you to our co-sponsors: this is a bookstore and Bookbug and Waldo Library. 


Civil discourse begins with a personal understanding of interactions we have with family, friends, colleagues, and even strangers.  We need "tools for talking when the stakes are high. Western Michigan University is a member of theHeterodox Academy, an international organization that aspires to create college classrooms and campuses that welcome diverse people with diverse viewpoints and that equip learners with the habits of heart and mind to engage that diversity in open inquiry and constructive disagreement.

Talk to us

Would you like to get involved in the We Talk movement? To receive our mailings register here, or use the Contact Us form to communicate with us.     

You can help

We Talk is made possible in large part through grants and private donations from those who support the cause of free speech, civil discourse and viewpoint diversity. We welcome your donation via the link below or inquiries about how you can help by sending an email to:


 fetzer institute key partner

The We Talk civil discourse initiative is supported by the Fetzer Institute, which awarded a $93,000 grant to We Talk in early 2022 to expand its educational opportunities to help people learn the skill sets and become receptive to resolving conflicting beliefs through intentional listening, rational actions and language, and empathy. The first initiative of the partnership was welcoming Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps, an ongoing national oral history project, and its One Small Step initiative to Kalamazoo in March 2022. Read more.