While most Americans report that politics feels divisive and exhaustive, it is possible to structure curious and rewarding conversations about politics

The Good Talks 2024 series offers short overviews from experts followed by guided small group conversations. A Vermont focus offers a place-based lens as well as a little hope that we can take from Vermont’s small democratic communities.

This series is a collaboration with community groups throughout Vermont. For each topic below, we offer a discussion guide and short talk that can serve as starting points for designing your own conversation. We hope you will adapt these to your own organization or community and then tell us how the conversation went!


a group of students speaking in small groups

Democratic Dialogue Skills

Conflicts can be navigated constructively through active listening, questions of curiosity, and mindfulness.  At the 2024 Student Spring Symposium, student leaders from Oratory in Action and the CT Collaborative will lead in an interactive session on constructive dialogue skills. The session is Friday, April 19, 9:15-10:30 am in BiHall 303.  

Adam Davidson

Misinformation and Political Polarization

How can we deal with misinformation in an era of political polarization? Journalist Adam Davidson offers a brief overview of the professional and personal challenges. Watch a video of his 20 minute talk from March 29, 2024.

Download the discussion guide


Town meeting day in Vermont

What is Town Meeting Day?

Town Meeting Day in Vermont is an annual democratic practice. Political Science Professor Bert Johnson offers a brief history and explains how questions about democratic quality and quantity are informing models of participation in 2024. Watch a video of the 20-minute talk, recorded on 2/29/24. 

Download the discussion guide.