"Polarization, Partisanship, and the Future of the Constitutional System"

Wednesday, October 11, 2017 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Coming to Terms with a Polarized Society


Nolan McCarty, Susan Dod Brown Professor of Politics and Public Affairs, Princeton University
“Polarization, Partisanship, and the Future of the Constitutional System.”

Frances Lee, Professor of Government and Politics, University of Maryland.
Frank Bruni, Op-Ed Columnist, New York Times.


The Institute of Social and Economic Research and Policy at Columbia University presents a series of events during the 2017-18 academic year under the theme of “Coming to Terms with a Polarized Society.” These events are jointly sponsored by the Departments of Anthropology, Sociology, Political Science, Economics, and History, and serve as a forum for consideration and debate of important trends that are having a profound effect on multiple aspects of American society. Scholars, journalists, politicians, and ordinary citizens have been aware for more than two decades of growing income inequality and stagnant incomes for middle-class Americans.

Along with these developments has come a growing political polarization in state and federal government and diminished empathy and respect between Americans who differ by class, race, religion, sexual orientation, or place of residence. The apparently growing divergence in viewpoints about what kind of country America is, what its strengths and weaknesses are, and how it should go about solving problems has been accompanied by growing distrust of science, expertise, and facts themselves. Everything has become partisan and subjective; nothing is trusted as objective. This series of events is intended to explore these issues in a forum that encourages thoughtful reflection and discussion.

Each of the five events in this series will feature a distinguished scholar from the academic community and two distinguished discussants – drawn from the worlds of journalism, politics, and the academy -- to offer their perspectives.