Longwood University, a public institution, is located in Farmville [VA]. Its leaders have instituted a curriculum called Civitae that encourages active citizenship and perhaps over time a reduction in the country’s tensions and divisions. “We are believers in what you could call the habits of democracy,” university president Taylor Reveley said. “And that is, it’s not purely the substance that you learn that’s very important. But it’s also the habits of engagement.” Reveley sees a connection between “the straits we’re in” as a country and an abandonment years ago by higher education of efforts to help students prepare for citizenship.
Longwood’s curriculum is just one many efforts to change the culture of politics and help repair democracy at a time of great division. Another is called the “bridging movement,” a loosely connected web of hundreds of organizations whose goal is to take some of the toxicity out of politics. What these groups have in common is a desire to bring together people with differing political views and encourage them to listen and talk frankly with one another.
One prominent example was launched last summer by Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) when he assumed the chair of the National Governors Association. He calls his initiative “Disagree Better.”