Civil Discourse in an Uncivil Age

A conversation with SNF Agora Visiting Fellow Alexander Heffner, host of PBS's The Open Mind

Drawing upon his experience as a public affairs broadcaster, civic educator, and journalist covering U.S. politics, Alexander Heffner, host of PBS’s The Open Mind, considers the future of democracy and the impact of the current media and political climate on the first draft of history. Heffner discusses the effects of divisiveness on discourse, campaigns, and governance as well as the influence of new media, dis/misinformation, and filter bubbles that polarize society. In an era of pestilence, cruel feelings, and now war, what are possible prescriptions to correct this cycle and preserve shared human values and freedom? How can our social footprint translate into constructive instead of destructive behavior? How can we restore the integrity of public policy and civic life?