Public Program Model 4: Seminar



The seminar program encourages a dialogue between presenters and participants about a topic. The seminar model presented here features several keynote speakers and panel and small group discussions. It is expected that the seminary will be at least one day or extend over several days. Participants will receive readings in advance to ensure a common framework for discussion. Seminars are ideal for college or graduate students and retirees and might be held onsite at a local college or university or senior center.

Sample Agenda (6 hours)

  • 10:00 a.m. Introductions
  • 10:15 a.m. Keynote address
  • 10:50 a.m. Break
  • 11:00 a.m. Small group discussions
  • 11:45 a.m. Break
  • 12:00 p.m. Panel discussion
  • 1:00 p.m. Small group discussions
  • 1:45 p.m. Break
  • 2:00 p.m. Small group discussions
  • 2:45 p.m. Break
  • 3:00 p.m. Closing session
  • 3:45 p.m. Break
  • 4:00 p.m. Wrap-up and adjourn

Target Audience

The seminar might be marketed to adults of various ages. Consider reaching out to local colleges, universities, or senior centers in the community.

Site Ideas

Sites for a seminar might include high schools, colleges, universities, community centers, senior centers, or libraries.

Continuing the Discussion

The seminar model relies on audience participation and informed discussion. Before the public program, consider using a website, email, or social media outlets to pose key questions to potential participants or publicize relevant hashtags. To facilitate discussion during small group discussions, assign a group leader and provide suggested questions for deliberation. Small groups will report at the seminar’s closing session. Use social media to generate discussion outside of the formal program. After the discussion is over, collect evaluations from all of the participants. Consider directing everyone to a website or social media outlet to continue the discussion.


Civility and Free Expression in a Constitutional Democracy is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities under the Bridging Cultures initiative. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Bar Association, or any of its program partners.