Democracy Builders: 2018 Lightning Talks

Democracy Builders:  2018 Lightning Talks Information

We believe that informed civil discourse has an essential and relevant role in a democratic society.  We invite you, our NOVA students, to prepare a “lightning talk”—a five-minute speech suggesting how you would increase informed civil discourse in our society.  You may address specific current critical and/or controversial topics, at local, regional, state, or national levels.  Be creative and dream big.  Tell us how you would re-invent our social structures and processes to promote thoughtful, informed, and respectful discussion of issues.  Representatives will be selected from NOVA campuses, and the final competition will be held on April 19, 2018 at 6pm.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • You must be in good academic standing at NOVA and be currently enrolled for 3 or more academic credits in the Spring 2018 semester


  • Promoting Informed Civil Discourse in a Democratic Society

Speech Requirements:

  • A five-minute speech
  • A 10 slide powerpoint that advances automatically every 30 seconds.
  • Your original work
  • Standard attribution of quotes, citations, etc.
  • If selected, you must be available to give your talk on Thursday, April 19th, at 6pm.


You will submit your slides to your campus’ Lighting Talks Committee before your presentation.

Evaluation Criteria:

Innovation & Usefulness – Ideas presented are innovative, unique, and creative; practical and useful.

Persuasive & Well-Delivered – Message is delivered in a highly articulate and persuasive manner; overall presentation is polished, non-verbal delivery conveys enthusiasm and professionalism.

Presentation – Visual aid is relevant and interesting; enhances overall message.


About Democracy Builders: The Loser-Savkar Democracy Builders competition was established by NOVA Chemistry Professor Reva A. Savkar, and NOVA Professor Emeritus Robert C. Loser. Reva A. Savkar, born and raised in the world’s largest democracy (India), has been teaching at NOVA for more than three decades. Robert C. Loser, born and raised in the world’s second largest democracy (USA), recently retired after three decades at NOVA. They believe that democracy depends on an informed citizenry actively participating in decisions, and that civil discourse is an essential part of this process.  They created this contest to spark innovations, foster ideas, and stimulate meaningful discourse.

The essay, including the cover page, must be submitted via your official NOVA student email account to