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Developing Policies and Programs in a Polarized Society

News Type Public Address

In a country that is increasingly polarized, how can we design policies and programs that meet the public’s needs?  

Speakers at the Glenn College Leadership Forum, an annual professional development conference for public service leaders, shared their successes in developing policies and programs that connect people and their elected officials in civil and productive discourse. Here are thoughts and strategies from panelists of a session called “Finding Common Ground: Developing Policies and Programs in a Polarized Society.” 

Todd Bradley

Policy director, Ohio Mayors Alliance, and former associate professor of political science at Indiana University Kokomo 

One of the things we're pushing for is more community engagement, and that should help restore trust in impacted communities, especially Black and Brown communities with the historical relationship with police officers throughout the country. We think that enhanced trust can start with community engagement, de-escalation tactics etc., and then indirectly that will hopefully buttress trust with politicians, mayors and other elected leaders.

David Lapp

Co-founder of Braver Angels, a bipartisan citizen’s movement to bridge America’s partisan divide and strengthen our democratic republic, and director of the organization’s We the People’s Project, a politically and racially diverse group of working-class Americans working together to build a house united in America 

What we've talked about recently is doing something where we put an everyday American and a politician in dialogue with the goal of finding what we can do to build trust between people who don't trust politicians at all and our elected leaders. It just seems like that is the cutting edge for the work we can do to build trust. 

Amy Lee

Associate director of Ohio State’s Institute for Democratic Engagement & Accountability (IDEA), which focuses on generating and disseminating knowledge about American political institutions, with a special emphasis on elections; studying and fostering high quality political dialogue and deliberation; and furthering the university’s motto of “education for citizenship” 

I'm really excited about working with younger students and developing the desire and norms in them to participate in fully inclusive public institutions that require active citizenship, rather than just understanding the system as we have it now, which is not conducive to engagement. 

The 2022 Glenn College Leadership Forum is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 28.