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National Institute for Civil Discourse

National Institute for Civil Discourse

The National Institute for Civil Discourse is a nonpartisan center for advocacy, research and policy. NICD Chat is a podcast that includes episodes about NICD programs, research, and topics related to civil discourse and politics.
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NICD Chat - Home Style Opinion
In this episode of NICD Chat, Timothy J. Shaffer, PhD speaks with Joshua Darr, PhD at Louisiana State University and Matthew P. Hitt, PhD at Colorado State University. They speak about their book Home Style Opinion: How Local Newspapers Can Slow Polarization from Cambridge University Press coauthored with Johanna L. Dunaway.  Local newspapers can hold back the rising tide of political division in America by turning away from the partisan battles in Washington and focusing their opinion page on local issues. When a local newspaper in California dropped national politics from its opinion page, the resulting space filled with local writers and issues. What comes from this experiment are lessons for all of us as we think about the role of local media, especially newspapers. As they argue, an opinion page that ignores national politics and, instead, focuses on news issues and concerns could help people think about public issues and politics differently. When we have so many outlets encouraging partisanship and polarization, Home Style Opinion is a good reminder that news can be produced and consumed without national politics and political polarization driving the discussion.
January 24, 2022
NICD Chat - Social Media, Misinformation, and Democracy
NICD's Timothy Shaffer facilitates an engaging discussion about the relationship of social media, misinformation, and civil discourse in democracy. Guests include three members of the NICD Research Network. Patricia Rossini is a Derby Fellow in the Department of Communication and Media at the University of Liverpool, UK and incoming Senior Lecturer at the University of Glasgow. Sarah Sobieraj is Professor and Chair of Sociology at Tufts University. Dannagal Goldthwaite Young is Professor of Communication at the University of Delaware. How should we think about social media? Listen and find out!
December 14, 2021
NICD Chat - Sustaining Democracy: What We Owe to the Other Side, Conversation with Robert Talisse
Robert B. Talisse is the W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University and author of Sustaining Democracy: What We Owe to the Other Side (Oxford University Press, 2021).  This conversation between NICD's Dr. Timothy Shaffer and Dr. Talisse highlights the challenge of what it means to wrestle with what Talisse calls the "democrat's dilemma:" the tension between the moral requirement to recognize the equality of political opponents and the moral directive to pursue and promote political justice. 
October 18, 2021
NICD Chat - The Ubiquitous Presidency: Conversation with Joshua M. Scacco and Kevin Coe
Recently, Oxford University Press has published The Ubiquitous Presidency: Presidential Communication and Digital Democracy in Tumultuous Times, written by Joshua M. Scacco and Kevin Coe. In this episode of NICD Chat, Timothy Shaffer speaks with Scacco and Kevin Coe about their recent book, what it means to think about the modern presidency reaching back to the time of Franklin D. Roosevelt to today. Significantly, the book utilizes data to make arguments about the impact and significance of the presidency well beyond simply speeches. Establishes a novel framework that incorporates the goals and contexts of modern presidential communication Includes a wide-ranging variety of never before published quantitative and qualitative data, including thousands of presidential communications and media texts, massive Twitter datasets, national and regional survey data, and a national survey experiment Provides detailed case studies of Barack Obama and Donald Trump, examining how both presidential administrations shared similar communication goals and contextual circumstances, but responded quite differently Joshua M. Scacco is an Associate Professor of Communication at the University of South Florida. He is an expert on political communication and news media, having published more than 50 academic articles, book chapters, and public research papers as well as provided commentary for national and local news outlets. Kevin Coe is a Professor of Communication at the University of Utah. He has published more than 50 academic articles and chapters, and is the coauthor of The God Strategy: How Religion Became a Political Weapon in America.
August 05, 2021
NICD Chat with Bob Bordone - Conflict Resilience and Engaging Values, Not Positions
Bob Bordone is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, author, coach, and teacher on negotiation, mediation, consensus-building, dialogue, and facilitation. He is the founder and principal at the Cambridge Negotiation Institute. He is also currently a Senior Fellow at Harvard Law School and previously served as the Thaddeus R. Beal Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School for more than two decades where he also founded and directed the Harvard Law School Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program. He is also a senior advisor to the National Institute for Civil Discourse.  Bordone has taught thousands of executives, government leaders, and others over the last two decades through executive education and leadership programs as well as through Harvard’s Program on Negotiation’s Negotiation and Leadership Executive Education Program and through the Harvard Negotiation Institute at Harvard Law School. In this episode, Bordone speaks about his work helping people address conflict and provides numerous examples through his work, including efforts as a member of the board of directors of Seeds of Peace and as a member of the advisory board for the Catholic Common Ground Initiative. 
April 16, 2021
NICD Chat - Emily Sydnor’s Disrespectful Democracy
Emily Sydnor is assistant professor of political science at Southwestern University who has recently published Disrespectful Democracy: The Psychology of Political Incivility from Columbia University Press. This episode explores the book and its implications for political discourse and the issue of incivility--and whether it is good or bad for democracy. The majority of Americans think that politics has an “incivility problem” and that this problem is only getting worse. Research demonstrates that negativity and rudeness in politics have been increasing for decades. But how does this tide of impolite-to-outrageous language affect our reactions to media coverage and our political behavior? Disrespectful Democracy offers a new account of the relationship between incivility and political behavior based on a key individual predisposition—conflict orientation. Individuals experience conflict in different ways; some enjoy arguments while others are uncomfortable and avoid confrontation. Drawing on a range of original surveys and experiments, Emily Sydnor contends that the rise of incivility in political media has transformed political involvement. Citizens now need to be able to tolerate or even welcome incivility in the public sphere in order to participate in the democratic process. Yet individuals who are turned off by incivility are not brought back in by civil presentation of issues. Sydnor considers the challenges in evaluating incivility’s normative benefits and harms to the political system: despite some detrimental aspects, certain levels of incivility in certain venues can promote political engagement, and confrontational behavior can be a vital tool in the citizen’s democratic arsenal. A rigorous and empirically informed analysis of political rhetoric and behavior, Disrespectful Democracy also proposes strategies to engage citizens across the range of conflict orientations. Order the book from Columbia University Press:
January 08, 2020
NICD Chat - Jennifer Mercieca, Is Our Public Sphere Under Attack?
This episode of NICD Chat is a lecture by Dr. Jennifer Mercieca, Associate Professor of Communication at Texas A&M University. She spoke at the third biannual NICD Research Convening that took place September 26-28, 2019 in Tucson, Arizona. Dr. Mercieca's talk, entitled "Is Our Public Sphere Under Attack?," explored weaponized rhetoric and its impact on American political discourse.  Dr. Mercieca writes about American political discourse, especially as it relates to citizenship, democracy, and the presidency. She has published two books about political rhetoric: Founding Fictions (University of Alabama Press, 2010) and The Rhetoric of Heroic Expectations: Establishing the Obama Presidency (Texas A&M University Press, 2014). Her third book about Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and demagoguery is forthcoming and is expected to be published in 2020. For more on her scholarship, visit 
September 27, 2019
NICD Chat - Using Conversations to Bridge Any Divide
This is a special episode of NICD Chat, rebroadcasting an interview between Becky Margiotta of the Unleashing Social Change podcast and Cheryl Graeve of NICD. ~~~ Racial, political, and generational division are not new concepts. We’ve been faced with the repercussions of division for as long as the human race has existed, but is it possible to bridge those divides? Today’s guest, Cheryl Graeve, works hand-in-hand with the National Institute for Civil Discourse to actively encourage others to participate in creating a more respectful and understanding space by initiating conversation. Cheryl talks about the platforms in which they use to connect individuals and the process of integrating listening and dialogue skills. Join Becky Margiotta in this interview to hear more about how we can all learn to peacefully celebrate each-others’ differences. ~~~ You can also listen to this podcast, along with many other episodes about leaders making social change on the Unleashing Social Change podcast. Each episode is an interview with a "badass social change leader and learn the ins and outs of what they’re doing to make the world a better place. This podcast will help you feel optimistic that we can make a difference and give you practical tips about how to go about doing so in a big way." For more on Revive Civility, visit: For Using Conversations to Bridge Any Divide, visit: For all the episodes of the Unleashing Social Change podcast and to learn more, visit:
September 12, 2019
NICD Chat - A Heavy Dose of Civility and Integrity
NICD Chat - A dialogue between former NICD Executive Director (now Emerita) Carolyn Lukensmeyer and former White House Chief of Staff Thomas F. McLarty III. They speak about their shared time in the White House during the Clinton administration and the importance of working together, a sentiment McLarty wrote about in an op-ed called "The Case to Stop Campaigning and Start Governing." You can read about McLarty's speech at George Washington University referenced in the podcast here.
August 25, 2019
Episode 3 - NICD Chat About Social Media and Fake News in Election 2016
A conversation between Jane Calderwood and Tracey Todd about the role of social media and fake news in the 2016 election. 
August 15, 2019
NICD Chat with Michele Chadwick
A conversation with Michele Chadwick of Gem County, Idaho about her work in public office and how it connects with civility. 
August 14, 2019
NICD Chat with Lewis Diuguid
NICD Chat with Lewis Diuguid, a long time member of The Kansas City Star’s editorial board who stepped down from that position in October 2016. To follow Diuguid, visit
August 14, 2019