Tools, Training, and a Community of Support

Campus professionals are at the forefront of cultivating campus environments where students can thrive. Ask Big Questions helps campus professionals infuse meaningful, connecting conversations into campus life. Our method is grounded in listening, reflecting, and engaging diverse perspectives—key practices for students’ civic development identified by leading higher education organizations including AAC&U, NASPA, and The American Democracy Project. Big Question Conversations are designed with flexibility in mind and can be integrated into a wide range of student experiences.  



The Ask Big Questions Academy helps you build a foundation and the Ask Big Questions Community of Practice offers ongoing support as you bring more reflective conversations to your campus.



Ask big questions academy

The Ask Big Questions Academy provides tools and training for higher education professionals to start or strengthen civic conversations on their campuses. Through experiential learning, interactive workshops, discussions and planning sessions, participants will deepen their skills to implement facilitated, reflective dialogues.

Academy participation includes membership in the Ask Big Questions Community of Practice.


Participants in the Academy will receive:

  • Training in a proven model of reflective discussion, tied to higher education civic learning outcomes
  • A flexible program model that can be integrated into a wide range of student experiences
  • Strategies and resources for training and supporting student conversation leaders
  • Support in developing a campus plan for civic conversation essential to strong, inclusive communities 
  • Access to engaging, powerful materials to start or strengthen community-building conversations on your campus
  • An assessment framework developed from widely-respected, validated instruments to help measure impact and quality


The Community of Practice is an opportunity for Academy participants to benefit from and contribute to a nationwide network of practitioners.  

Benefits include:

  • Connection to a network of colleagues for information sharing and community building
  • Access to our full catalogue of Big Question Conversation Guides
  • Discounts on materials and training
  • Support from Ask Big Questions staff including instruction, coaching, and support for implementing programs on your campus
  • Assessment tools and reports...and more!



Upcoming Academy Dates


Join us for the inaugural Ask Big Questions Academy!

June 17 - 19, 2018 in Evanston, Illinois
One-time discounted registration of $200 per person

Application deadline is April 13, 2018

Academy activities will take place Sunday afternoon through Tuesday afternoon, allowing time for travel on those days, should you choose. Registration includes training, all materials, and breakfast and lunch on June 18 and 19. Check out the Schedule at a Glance.


Travel and Lodging

Evanston is conveniently located just north of Chicago along the shore of Lake Michigan. Participants will find transportation information and more on the Hyatt House website. Hotel rates in our room block have been discounted to $169 + tax per night. Reservation details will be included in your registration information.



busy those dates?

If you are interested in the Academy but cannot attend the upcoming dates, please let us know about your interest here.



+ Who should attend the Academy?

The Academy experience is designed for higher education professionals, and will especially be a good fit for those who:

  • Have a passion for bringing students together for reflective conversations to build more connected, inclusive communities
  • Have experience or training in facilitating group discussion
  • Have a campus position/role that offers opportunities for implementing group discussions
  • Have support from supervisors and/or a campus department to implement community conversations
  • Work in an area that aligns well with the goals of advancing respect and civility, engaging diverse perspectives, and fostering socially responsible leadership
  • Believe in the importance of assessment as part of effective programming

+ Should I attend the Academy if I have participated in an Ask Big Questions training previously?

The Academy is designed as an immersive experience that goes beyond what our previous short training workshops have offered. In part, the Academy is an opportunity to get up to date with our new conversation guides and materials. In addition, the Academy will have an expanded focus on training conversation leaders on your campus and developing a campus implementation plan. The Academy also offers the chance to renew your Ask Big Questions programming with a cohort of colleagues who will be a network for support and idea sharing.

+ Can we bring a team from our campus?

Building a team to implement civic conversation is definitely a plus! At our inaugural Academy, we are dedicated to offering the benefits of a small cohort experience, and may have limited options for campus teams. If you are interested in having more than two or three people from your campus attend, please contact us to discuss options.

+ What will I get from attending the Academy?

Highlights of the Academy experience include:

  • A highly interactive small group environment with time to engage with ABQ staff and fellow participants
  • Opportunities to practice with new tools and strategies as you learn
  • Meaningful discussion with a network of peers that shares a common vision and commitment
  • Membership in a professional Community of Practice for ongoing support, information sharing, and networking

+ What is included?

The registration fee includes all materials, as well as some meals and snacks. Your participation in the Academy also includes a one-year term of support and participation in our Community of Practice. You will have access to connect with other members of the community, discounts on purchase of other materials, and support from our staff for implementing your Ask Big Questions program.

+ How are participants selected?

Our goal is to bring together a diverse cohort from a variety of backgrounds and campus settings, so applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis to help us achieve this goal. Please be assured that we want to accommodate everyone we can and will also be developing a wait list for future Academies should that be necessary.

+ What accommodations do you offer for individual needs?

We want everyone to have an enriching and engaging experience and be able to fully participate! The Academy will take place at a fully accessible location. Prior to the Academy, participants will have the opportunity to notify us of any dietary needs, housing requests, ability-related accommodations, or other reasonable needs that we can attend to. If you have questions about the accessibility of the location or the Academy experience, please contact us at

+ What is required to be part of the Community of Practice?

Community of Practice membership is a relationship between Ask Big Questions and campus partners who have attended the Academy. In addition to numerous benefits, there are some responsibilities we ask of our campus partners, including:

  • Annual renewal
  • Maintaining updated contact information
  • Following our Terms & Conditions for use of materials
  • Participation in assessment processes and sharing of assessment data
  • Participation in periodic training updates
  • Limiting implementation and use of Ask Big Questions methods and materials to your campus only

+ Are there Terms & Conditions for implementing Ask Big Questions on my campus?

These Terms & Conditions apply to our materials. We have invested significant resources and thought in creating our conversation guides and other materials, and naturally request that you offer attribution and use them respectfully.