Discourse for Democracy

Extreme polarization–or intense division and distrust resulting from people’s opposing opinions on political issues–has become a prominent feature of our political landscape. While diverse perspectives and healthy debate are integral to a well-functioning democracy and the generation of good public policy, extreme polarization poses a serious threat to democracy. It can make us significantly less likely to talk with people who hold different perspectives than we do as we stick to our “bubbles” and end up in echo chambers.  This year, Polis’s events and programs center on the theme of “Discourse for Democracy”–centering authentic and transformative political discussions that promote unity and collaboration.  

Event Recap: Leveling Up Leadership: Building Diverse Leaders Today for Tomorrow featuring John Rice, 3/16/2022

John Rice, the Founder and CEO of Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) joined the Sanford School of Public Policy, Polis: Center for Politics, and the Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society for this year's Robert R. Wilson Distinguished Lecture.

Rice is a leader in fighting racial and economic disparities in the business world and helps transform the careers of people of color. Rice spoke about his experiences teaching diverse students and professionals to tap into the social capital they need today so that they can serve as strong leaders tomorrow.

Read more in Sanford's Student Voices, written by MPP student Hamza Mohamoud.

Bob Inglis: Conservatives and Climate Change, 3/3/22

On March 3rd, Polis, the Nicholas School of the Environment's Duke Energy Initiative, and the Global Financial Markets Center at Duke Law hosted former U.S. Congressman Bob Inglis (Duke ’81) to discuss domestic political challenges, the effects of political polarity, and steps to address current problems in the American Democracy. Bob Inglis served as a member of South Carolina’s congressional delegation and currently is the Executive Director of republicEn.org, a growing group of conservatives who care about climate change.

Bob Inglis also met with students of Professor Rose's Pub Pol 301 class, Duke Undergrad Bipartisan Solutions team and the Ciceronian Society.

Event Recap: A Career in Service: A Conversation with Rep. David Price and Judy Woodruff, 1/19/2022

“We’re in a perilous moment. My overall sense is that this is an institution that’s really damaged by partisanship and extremists...I could not have dreamed of what happened on Jan. 6.” - Rep. Price, D-NC

On Jan. 19, Polis hosted PBS NewsHour host Judy Woodruff (Duke ’68) and Rep. David Price (NC-04) to reflect on Rep. Price's 30 plus year career in public service and the fourth edition of his book, The Congressional Experience.

James Gao, a sophomore majoring in Public Policy and Statistics, and a Polis Director's Fellow, reflected on the event for the Sanford Student Voices.

"Hearing Price talk about the importance of bipartisan cooperation and lively political discourse made me more appreciative of the experiences I’ve had within Sanford. My classmates, professors, and guest speakers have all opened my eyes to thoughts and viewpoints I would have never otherwise been able to hear." - James Gao

Click here to check out the full article.

Additionally, check out Duke Today's article on the event, "Rep. David Price: 'We're in a Perilous Moment'"

Click here to watch the event on our YouTube

Event Recap: Local Politics & Democracy, 11/17/21

Local politicians came to Duke to speak about their experiences as emerging leaders in Durham politics.

Photos and quotes sourced from Gautam Sirdeshmukh and Alison Korn of the Duke Chronicle.

Anjali Boyd, Bettina Umstead, and Nida Allam were guest speakers at Polis’s “Local Politics and Democracy” event, where they described their work, their different paths into politics, and their perspectives on productive political dialogue. Boyd, a Duke University PhD student, currently serves as the Durham Soil and Water Conservation District supervisor. Umstead founded educational non-profit Student U and currently leads Durham Public Schools’ Board of Education. Allam led Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential efforts in North Carolina and currently serves on the Durham County Board of Commissioners.

Here are a few of our favorite quotes from the discussion:

“A lot of it is trying to meet new people, understand what their needs are in their county, and how we can be of assistance to them and how they can be of assistance to us.” – Anjali Boyd

“I would repeat again to not listen to anyone who tells you to wait your turn [to run for office]” – Nida Allam

“If kids are spending kindergarten through the 12th grade in a public school, they should leave ready to change the world… Their lives depend on it, their family’s lives depend on it.” – Bettina Umstead

You can read more in the Duke Chronicle.

Following the event, Umstead and Boyd joined PEP fellows and Duke students for an informal discussion

Professor Abdullah Antepli on Discourse for Democracy

We interviewed Professor Abdullah Antepli on the importance of productive political discourse

Here are a few quotes from the interview:

“Never get satisfied by simple and simplistic answers to complicated problems and issues of our time.”

“If and when...productive political dialogue takes place meaningfully, people who have irreconcilable political disagreements falling in different sides of the partisan aisles gradually realize that their disagreements, as real and important as they are, do not stem from having a different or contradictory set of values and morals but they are coming from ranking and emphasizing these values differently.”

“The ideal engagement over political engagements, for me, are those done among people who deeply and passionately care about their political ideological commitments--equipped to defend their positions, yet willing to make a genuine effort to understand and make sense of their political and ideological opponents … [and who are] genuinely curious and never feel they are done learning from anyone.”
-- Professor Abdullah Antepli

Professor Abdullah Antepli is an Associate Professor of the Practice of Interfaith Relations and an Associate Professor of the Practice at the Sanford School of Public Policy

Event Recap: Chipotle Chat, 11/10/2021

On November 10th, our Polis Director’s Fellows, joined by Professor Deondra Rose, led a guided discussion with Duke students over burritos.
Topics discussed included recent elections, political discourse at Duke, and hot issues like critical race theory and the expanded social safety net.