Consent Shake-Up

Comprehensive Consent goes beyond what consent is and isn’t.  Their programming helps students become better critical thinkers and sexual decision-makers so that they’re more prepared for safe, smart, and caring intimacy. Comprehensive Consent’s programming is practical, engaging, and relevant to college students’ lives. Together, we can nurture a generation of students who embody consent values and who are guided by their commitment to mutual respect for all people.

Sarah Casper
Image of Consent Shake-Up
Program Name Level of Evidence Format Target Audience Special Features
Consent Shake-Up
  • In-person Workshop
  • Undergraduate students
Learning Objectives

Participants will:

Explore the difference between consent law and relational ethics.

Listen to their peers’ perspectives and needs when it comes to practicing consent

Consider questions like:

  • Have you ever said "yes" when you wish you said "no"? How can you know if a "yes" is genuine?
  • When do you have to ask first? In sexual activity, is it ever ok not to ask first?
  • Is there a difference between persuading, convincing, and coercing?
  • When is it ok to engage in sexual activity if one or more of you has been drinking?
  • How do power dynamics impact consent?
  • Is there such a thing as implicit consent? Can you ever assume consent?
  • What can you do if you mess up in consent?

After a brief introduction and reviewing the game rules, the facilitator will read aloud a single statement about consent (e.g., “consent needs to be enthusiastic,” “persuading is the same thing as coercing”). Students will indicate whether they agree or disagree with the statement by moving to one side of the room or the other. The facilitator will then engage students in a discussion where they will have a chance to share their decision process, listen to the perspectives of others, and consider the ethics, assumptions, and implications of the ideas shared. The facilitator will support learning by sharing practical tools and ideas throughout. A discussion guide is also provided to the institution for continued small group discussions.


A one-time 75-minute workshop.


The workshop can be facilitated with a group of up to 40 students. A room large enough for 40 students to move around is required.

The workshop can also be done fish-bowl style with ~20 volunteer students in front of a large auditorium audience of their peers.

Population Served

Undergraduate and graduate students.

Theoretical Basis For Approach

As reflected in affirmative consent policies across campuses, there’s a temptation to present consent as something that’s able to be simple and unambiguous. However, research shows that consent communication is anything but. The latest research on consent cautions consent educators against presenting consent as a simple legal standard, as a “yes” or “no” binary, or as something synonymous with interest (Beres, 2014; Fenner, 2017; Setty, 2020).

Instead, based on their findings, researchers implore schools to provide programming that engages students in critical reflection, helps students grapple with the complexities of meaningful choice, provides students a space for them to discuss their own practices, uses interactive activities for students such as discussion and debate, and builds skills for engaging in ambiguity (Hirsch et al., 2019; Lockwood Harris, 2018; Pound et al., 2017;  Setty, 2020). Consent Shake-Up is designed with these considerations at the forefront.

Findings also suggest that one-time workshops or sessions are ineffective (Jozkowski et al., 2015). This is why Consent Shake-Up’s program includes a comprehensive discussion guide provided for further conversation among faculty, staff, and students. Learn more about our commitment to research-informed practices, here.

Program Effectiveness

Data collected by Comprehensive Consent reflects that after participating in the Consent Shake-Up workshop, college students better understand the complexities of consent and feel more prepared to practice consent. Students report that they expect the workshop to impact how they practice consent in their lives.


The following colleges and universities have hosted Consent Shake-Up:

  • New York University
  • Cornell College
  • University of North Carolina - Asheville

While the majority of consent education and violence prevention focuses on telling students what consent best practices are, Consent Shake-Up gives students a chance to speak with their peers about their own needs and perspectives when it comes to consent and sex. Research demonstrates that while students know what affirmative consent is, their actual consent practices generally don’t meet this standard (Hirsch & Mellins, 2019). With Consent Shake-Up, institutions like yours can help students critically consider the nuances of practicing consent and learn how to overcome the barriers to a more respectful consent practice. Accordingly, please note that this workshop emphasizes the ethical and social-emotional components of consent rather than the legal components and is intended to complement the programming required by Title IX.


Contact Sarah Casper at or by phone at 201-407-6046. We provide programming throughout the US.


Beres, M. (2014). Rethinking the concept of consent for anti-sexual violence activism and education. Feminism & Psychology, 24(3), 373–389.

Fenner, L. (2017). Sexual consent as a scientific subject: A literature review. American Journal of Sexuality Education, 12:4, 451-471.

Hirsch, J. S., Khan, S. R., Wamboldt, A., & Mellins, C. A. (2019). Social dimensions of sexual consent among cisgender heterosexual college students: Insights from ethnographic research. Journal of Adolescent Health, 64(1), 26–35.

Hirsch, J. S. & Mellins, C. A. (2019). Sexual Health Initiative to Foster Transformation. New York, NY: Columbia University.

Jozkowski, K., Henry, D., & Sturm, A. (2015). College student’s perceptions of the importance of sexual assault prevention education: Suggestions for targeting recruitment for peer-based education. Health Education Journal, 74(1), 46–59.

Lockwood Harris, K. (2018). Yes means yes and no means no, but both these mantras need to go: Communication myths in consent education and anti-rape activism, Journal of Applied Communication Research, 46:2, 155-178.

Pound, P., Denford, S., Shucksmith, J., Tanton, C., Johnson, A. M., Owen, J., & Campbell, R. (2017). What is best practice in sex and relationship education? A synthesis of evidence, including stakeholders’ views. BMJ Open, 7(5), e014791.

Setty, E. (2020): Sex and consent in contemporary youth sexual culture: The ‘ideals’ and the ‘realities.’ Sex Education, 21:3, 331-346.