Democracy Lab

  • Launching Fall 2020, Democracy Lab is an experimental, non-partisan initiative aimed at fostering our community’s commitment to the project of American citizenship.

    These are anxious times for our nation. A global pandemic, mass unemployment, the eruption of long-simmering social and racial tensions, a hyper-partisan political landscape, and a highly contested national election are among the many challenges currently testing our commitment to the democratic project. 

    Yet these same circumstances also present us with important opportunities. The social restrictions imposed by COVID-19 and its fallout invite us to reflect on how interconnected we are and to appreciate our neighbors and loved ones. The wider unrest summons us to consider the current state of our society, assessing both its virtues and its shortcomings. By using this moment to take stock of what we value and where we wish to improve, we may begin taking concrete steps toward a more equitable, more civil, and less divisive future. 

    What Democracy Lab does 

    Through the deployment of skills-building workshops and facilitated discussions, the Lab aims to serve as a gathering place where students, staff and community members can assemble and engage with one another in the kind of candid and civil exchange of ideas that a healthy democracy requires.  

    This will be a place where participants can discuss their differences honestly, openly and without fear of being judged; where they can learn about and learn from others’ perspectives and experiences; and where they can begin building upon common ground where it exists. 

    For its inaugural season, the Democracy Lab will be partnering with Braver Angels and its nation-wide With Malice Toward None campaign. Braver Angels is a national, non-partisan organization committed to de-polarizing American political culture. More information on the organization can be found at www.braverangels.org. 

    Please join us! 

    Democracy Lab offerings are free of charge and open to all members of the Carroll community.


  • Schedule of Upcoming Events

  • September

    COMMUNICATING ACROSS POLITICAL DIVIDES

    Thursday, September 17, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. (Microsoft Teams) 

    Rarely in our nation’s history has it been so difficult—or so vital—to engage with people of different political commitments. Democracies depend not on people being able to agree, but on their being willing to speak honestly and listen to others with an open mind.

    In this skills-building workshop, participants will: 

    • Learn to reframe potentially contentious political exchanges in more constructive ways. 
    • Practice skills and techniques vital to constructive democratic exchange. 
    • Formulate a plan for deploying the skills and techniques presented in the workshop within their communities.  

    To participate in this workshop, register here.

    WHY DEMOCRACY?

    Thursday, September 24, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. (Microsoft Teams) 

    As Americans, we are taught to believe that democracy is the best form of government, but we are not always encouraged to examine the bases for this belief. By exposing this idea to reconsideration, we open ourselves to a host of questions, many of which touch on some of our most deeply held values and beliefs.

    In this discussion, participants will work together to reflect on: 

    • What they expect from their government and why. 
    • Where our democracy is and is not succeeding in meeting the needs of its citizenry. 
    • How, as citizens, we might work to strengthen civil society and hold our government to account.

    To participate in this workshop, register here.

    HILL SCHOLARS COMMUNICATION COURSE (ACTIVE LISTENING)

    Tuesday, September 29, 4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. (Microsoft Teams)        

    Routinely cited by employers as a top 3 desired skill in prospective employees, an ability to communicate effectively carries important benefits in both one’s personal and professional life. As a skill, effective communication entails both the ability to convey one’s own positions and the ability to understand other people’s thinking. Critical to both these goals is the skill of active listening. Learn how to hone your active listening skills in this 90-minute seminar on effective dialogue and communication. (Reserved for students in the Hill Scholars Program.)

    To participate in this workshop, register here.

    OCTOBER

    SKILLS FOR ONLINE COMMUNICATION ACROSS POLITICAL DIVIDES

    Thursday, October 15, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. (Microsoft Teams)        

    To participate in this workshop, register here.

    TO BE ANNOUNCED

    Thursday, October 29, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. (Microsoft Teams)      

    To participate in this discussion, register here.

    NOVEMBER

    WMTN POST-ELECTION DISCUSSION 1 

    TBD, (Microsoft Teams)

    To participate in this discussion, register here.

    WMTN POST-ELECTION DISCUSSION 2

    TBD (Microsoft Teams)

    To participate in this discussion, register here.

    DECEMBER

    WMTN POST-ELECTION JOINT DISCUSSION 3

    TBD (Microsoft Teams)

    To participate in this discussion, register here.


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