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Difficult Dialogues


The Signature Course program offers Difficult Dialogues courses on a range of controversial topics. Faculty receive training and support to facilitate classroom dialogues on difficult and controversial topics. Some Difficult Dialogues faculty work with University and community leaders on other dialogue-based approaches to teaching and learning.


Founded in 2006 by the Provost’s Office, Difficult Dialogues began as part of a Ford Foundation initiative developed in response to reports of growing intolerance and efforts to curb academic freedom on U.S. campuses. Difficult Dialogues moved to the Humanities Institute in 2009 and to the Undergraduate College in 2023.

One of a diverse group of 27 public and private institutions selected from across the country, UT Austin is unique in offering Difficult Dialogues courses as part of the core undergraduate curriculum.

Difficult Dialogues seminars are distinctive in their focus on teaching faculty and students the skills they need to participate in constructive dialogue about controversial and potentially divisive issues.


To date, UT faculty have developed more than 50 Difficult Dialogue courses. The program also offers workshops and resources for Difficult Dialogues faculty.

Difficult Dialogues courses cover areas such as cultural heritage and representation, gender and sexuality, health, human rights and ethics, immigration and cultural pluralism, race and ethnicity, religion in society, and sustainability.