About us

Video of WeTalk 2022 Promo
The purpose of We Talk is to foster a campus 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.

We Talk '22 is designed to build upon We Talk programming held in 2021 and will focus on building our skill sets and providing academic tools for having difficult conversations.

We Talk 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.

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Video of WeTalk - Dave Isay invites YOU!
Americans say they’re exhausted by political polarization and looking for a way out.

In response to the current culture of contempt, StoryCorps One Small Step is an effort to help mend the fraying fabric of our nation—one conversation at a time. As a follow up to StoryCorps founder Dave Isay’s visit to Western Michigan University in late March, Kalamazoo will be a recording site this fall for One Small Step interviews between local citizens holding opposing political perspectives matched through an easy-to-complete online application. Read more.


Fetzer Institute and We Talk partner  

The Fetzer Institute has awarded a $93,000 grant to Western Michigan University's civil discourse initiative, We Talk, to expand its educational opportunities to create a campus and community culture receptive to resolving conflicting beliefs through intentional listening, rational actions and language, and empathy. Read more. 

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. 

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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.

Grant support to keep talking

Advocating for civil discourse and viewpoint diversity on campus and in the community earned Western Michigan University’s We Talk initiative a $30,000 Flexible Funding Opportunity grant from Heterodox AcademyWe appreciate Heterodox Academy for supporting our work. Read more


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 the Heterodox 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.  

Enjoy this thought-provoking Intentional Dialogue Guide about the difference between understanding and agreement.

Also available is the Bridging Difference Playbook, offering research-based strategies to promote positive dialogue and understanding.


Cover, Don't Label Me by Irshad ManjiDon't Label Me: How To Do Diversity Without Inflaming The Culture Wars. The most recent book of our fall keynote speaker, Irshad Manji. 

The fall 2020 We Talk common read was "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics and Religion," by Jonathan Haidt. Learn more. 


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: wetalk@wmich.edu



The We Talk civil discourse initiative is supported in part by Heterodox Academy. The ability for HxA to provide grants for HxCommunities events and other activities are made possible in full through the support of the John Templeton Foundation. The opinions expressed at these events (or through such activities) are those of the individual grantees, organizers, speakers, presenters, and attendees of such events/activities and do not necessarily reflect the views of Heterodox Academy and/or the John Templeton Foundation