Next Generation works directly with state legislators to address incivility and hyperpolarization at the state level. Next Generation offers virtual programming and an interactive, half-day workshop titled, Building Trust through Civil Discourse, that is designed and delivered by state legislators for state legislators.
How to Bring a Workshop to your State
We’ve held workshops in 17 states and met thousands of legislators around the country. Is your state next? Any legislator, local organization, or constituent can approach Next Generation or the Legislative Leadership in their state to encourage them to hold a workshop:
- For the legislature as an independent event during session or another convenient time
- As part of new member orientation after an election
Next Generation will provide program materials and guidance to any parties interested in bringing a workshop to their state and handle all matters of the planning process. If you are interested in helping to bring a workshop to your state, please email Nadine Wise or call 614-398-0773.
Next Generation offers customizable breakout sessions, workshops, and virtual presentations. Breakout sessions and workshops are always led by a bipartisan team of Facilitators – current or former legislators from a nearby state. All options offer an engaging, bipartisan discussion that opens doors to finding common ground and moves your state toward a more perfect union: Empathy instead of Vitriol; Listening for Understanding instead of Hearing to Overpower; Humility instead of All-knowing. Next Generation looks forward to working with your state legislature to create the best option.
Virtual Breakout Session (1.5 hours): Strategies to Connect Across the Divide
Do you ever wish you could have a private conversation with legislators from across the aisle about things you might agree on or have in common? No press or social media. Just you and your fellow colleagues gathering for a conversation about engaging differences constructively.
During this facilitated breakout session, small workgroups of Democrats and Republicans from both chambers will share personal journeys, define the current state of civility in their state, identify barriers and opportunities to leverage change, and create an action plan.
Workshop (4.5 hours): Building Trust Through Civil Discourse
After we’ve met your legislators virtually, we can schedule a full workshop when it’s safe (at no cost to you). During this workshop, legislators begin with a social gathering or meal to honor fellowship, learn about the foundation and critical role of civility to our nation’s Founders, and watch examples of unlikely friendships. Then, a bipartisan team of Next Generation facilitators move the large group into breakout rooms for small group work: no more than 25 Democrats and Republicans from both chambers will share personal journeys, define the current state of civility, identify barriers and opportunities to leverage change, and create an action plan. During the last hour of the workshop, all legislators return together to report action plans and vote on priorities.
Virtual Programs (1 or 1 ½ hour sessions): The Case for Civil Discourse
Topic One: Leading with Civility – A Practical Approach
Have you ever wondered what makes a great leader—one that can motivate and inspire others to achieve extraordinary results? Drawing on his legislative experience leading a state senate, Brent Hill, Director of our Next Generation Program, explores the vital role civility played in the founding of America and its continued importance in today’s political environment.
Whether a freshman legislator or seasoned lawmaker, each participant will discover practical civil discourse best practices as they relate to leadership skills: Engaging Differences Constructively, Listening for Understanding, Empathy, Humility, Conscience, Principled Advocacy, and Common Ground.
Topic Two: Founding Fathers
The nation’s capacity to work across our differences respectfully and with civility has reached record lows. Analyses of the more than 13 million roll call votes cast since 1789 reveal that the Congress is now the most polarized ever. The American Founders recognized that differences escalating into dysfunctional partisan animosity was the chief reason every previous republic had failed. Building a republic robust to partisan animosity was the chief problem the Founders aimed to solve in framing the U.S. Constitution. The main reason the American system takes separation of powers further than any other is to prevent parties from imposing their will on everyone else.
Keith Allred, Executive Director the National Institute for Civil Discourse, leads a discussion of the Founders’ thinking about partisan animosity and their conclusion that engaging each other with civility and respect across partisan lines is crucial to the success of the American republic.
Topic Three: The Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis
This session draws on the field of group decision making. Keith Allred, Executive Director the National Institute for Civil Discourse, makes the case for why we need to restore this capacity and how we can do it. The conversation starts with a discussion of the Kennedy Administration’s decision to support an invasion of Castro’s Cuba and the monumental blunder that it turned out to be. Just 18 months later, the same group confronted a daunting challenge in the Cuban Missile Crisis. This time, when the stakes could hardly have been higher, Kennedy managed differences within his administration completely differently with vastly superior results.
Participants review how Kennedy did it by viewing excerpts from the riveting 2001 movie Thirteen Days. Before Nixon’s infamous secret taping system, Kennedy had one installed. Thirteen Days is based on the transcripts from Kennedy’s tapes of his administration’s deliberations during those critical days in October 1962.