Dialogue and Democracy Academic Institute

A Lifetime of Civic Engagement

July 10 – 15, 2022

This six-day residential academic program is designed for young women with a desire to make the world a better place, and who want to learn how to speak up and be heard. Here, you will learn the building blocks for constructive dialogue by practicing how to listen to and respect those with different views. You will develop skills for participation in democracy, developing your own action plan to address an issue of concern in your local community. You will work closely with Saint Mary’s College students and professors, as you experience life on campus, explore the local community, develop valuable pre-college academic skills, and have fun with your peers.

Created and led by Saint Mary’s professor, author, and nationally recognized expert on civil discourse, Megan Halteman Zwart, Ph.D, the Dialogue and Democracy Academic Institute lays the foundation for a lifetime of productive civic engagement.

The Dialogue and Democracy Institute is limited to 30 participants. Participation is open to high school girls entering grades 10 – 12 in the fall of 2022. Students who are accepted into this competitive program may apply for full or half scholarships.

Vaccinations are required to participate in Dialogue and Democracy, including being up-to-date with the COVID-19 vaccination. The COVID-19 guidelines for the Summer Academic Institutes could change, depending on current conditions. Learn more.

The 2022 Dialogue and Democracy Institute is full. Registration is now closed.

The Dialogue and Democracy Academic Institute runs concurrently with the first week of the Embody Theology Summer Institute.



The Dialogue and Democracy Summer Institute includes time in the classroom with Saint Mary’s professors, field trips, engagement in the South Bend community, and many opportunities to practice dialogue across differences. 

This emphasis on engagement at the local level will give you valuable, real-world skills for participating in democracy, while addressing the overwhelming sense of frustration and polarization that can exist in national politics. 

Throughout the week you will:

  • Practice skills to engage in constructive dialogue with others who have different views
  • Develop virtues and skills necessary to be active in democracy
  • Investigate what it means to participate in a “politics of place”
  • Explore sites in the South Bend area and the local issues associated with each

​Saint Mary's campus is a smoke-free and tobacco-free environment


The Dialogue and Democracy Academic Institute is supported by the John and Frank Sparacio Charitable Foundation.