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American Dream Series Resources

Thank you for joining us for The American Dream in Wisconsin, a series of free public talks hosted by the Wisconsin Academy that explore how changes in public education, rural life, and the immigrant experience are shaping our hopes and dreams for the future. Whether you are attending these talks in Overture Center for the Arts in Madison or watching them on our website or Facebook page, we hope the following discussion questions will provide a framework for thinking and talking about this important subject. If you are watching the series live, we encourage you to send your questions to our presenters through the Facebook Live message thread or post questions to Twitter with #AmericanDreamWI and we will try to share them with the speaker and audience during the Q&A sessions of each talk. You can also send questions to

Contact Wisconsin Academy staff at or 608-263-1692 x10 with general questions about how to best view and share The American Dream in Wisconsin series broadcasts with libraries and discussion groups. 

DISCUSSION GUIDE: Download questions for John Gurda's 9/19 talk Neighbors and Strangers.

Discussion Guide


  • Try to refer to specific points/perspectives from the series talk at hand before you offer your own insights.
  • Respect others’ rights to hold opinions and beliefs that differ from your own. When you disagree, challenge or criticize the idea, not the person.
  • Listen carefully to what others are saying even when you disagree. Comments that you make should reflect that you have paid careful attention to the discussion.
  • Be courteous. Don’t interrupt or engage in private conversations while others are speaking. 
  • Support and take responsibility for your statements; avoid generalizations (e.g. "They/those people")
  • Share responsibility for including all voices in the discussion.  If you have much to say, try to hold back a bit; if you are hesitant to speak, look for opportunities to contribute.
  • Recognize that we are all still learning. Be willing to change your perspective, and make space for others to do the same.

General American Dream Series Questions

  1. What does the American Dream mean to you?
  2. Does the American Dream unite or divide us?
  3. How has the American Dream changed during your lifetime; how has it remained the same?
  4. What do we all share as Americans that is central to the promise of the American Dream?

Neighbors & Strangers

  1. Do you know your neighbors by first name?
  2. What does it take to be a good neighbor?
  3. How has your neighborhood or community changed for the better or worse over the last ten or twenty years?
  4. What kinds of diversity (e.g. racial, ethnic, religious, age, sexual orientation, socio-economic) are the hallmarks of healthy neighborhoods and communities.

Contact Us

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Wisconsin Academy Offices 
1922 University Avenue
Madison, Wisconsin 53726
Phone: 608.733.6633


James Watrous Gallery 
3rd Floor, Overture Center for the Arts
201 State Street
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: 608.733.6633 x25