Convening 14 March 2019 New York City (New York)
The Illiberal Trend

Conference: The Trap of Polarization and the Erosion of Democratic Discourse

March 14th, 2019 (2 pm – 6.30 pm) | The Italian Academy at Columbia University | 1161 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10027

In a democracy, every member of the polity is treated as free and equal because she/he shares the same rights in the formal decision-making process. The preferences, values, and interests of individuals are given equal weight. Since democratic regimes are marked by a plurality of perspectives and values, collective decision-making on behalf of the whole polity requires a fair process of mediation and deliberation.

To achieve a truly inclusive and open public sphere where no dominant perspective is imposed from above – and where values and proposals are freely discussed and challenged – participants must evaluate proposals on their merits.

This requires reasonable and reasoning citizens who are ready to exchange arguments, to respect their fellow citizens, and engage in deliberation in order to identify a consensus amidst competing values and perspectives. Extreme political polarization is undermining this process in contemporary democratic regimes, creating divisions that cannot be mediated and ideological counter-positions that transform fellow citizens in enemies who aim at defeating each other rather than cooperating for the common good.

What are the structural causes of extreme political polarization, and can it be reversed?

How can we foster an atmosphere of deliberation?

ResetDOC will address these questions with a one-day conference on political polarization in comparative perspective.

List of speakers: Giuliano Amato • Anthony Appiah • Karen Barkey • Seyla Benhabib • Sheri Berman • Giancarlo Bosetti • Jose Casanova • David Freedberg • Andrea Graziosi • Stanley Greenberg • Steve Hanson • Joseph LaPalombara • Jonathan Laurence • Soli Özel • Ece Temelkuran • Michael Walzer

The Conference is Free and open to the public.

Provisional Program

Welcome speech and opening (2.00 pm)

David Freedberg

Giancarlo Bosetti


(2.15 pm – 4.45 pm)  

Stanley Greenberg President Trump’s Tea Party revolution and end of America’s polarization

Ece Temelkuran From Democracy to the New Political Ice Age

Anthony Appiah Against Tribalism


Steve Hanson, Soli Özel, Karen Barkey, Andrea Graziosi

Coffee Break (4.45 pm – 5.15 pm)

Roundtable  (5.15 pm – 6.30 pm)

Michael Walzer, Sheri Berman, Seyla Benhabib, Giuliano Amato, Jose Casanova