Workshops

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.

In addition to our workshop, we offer shorter programming, presented with our partners at the State Legislative Leaders Foundation (SLLF). All content inspires and improves relationship throughout state legislatures around the country.

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 Next Generation or call 614-398-0773.

Bring a Workshop to my State
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Program Offerings

Next Generation offers customizable breakout sessions, workshops, and programming that supports civility, bipartisanship, and leadership. Many of our offerings are now supported by the State Legislative Leaders Foundation (SLLF).

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.

Building Trust Through Civil Discourse Workshop (4.5 hours)

Do you ever wish you could have a private conversation with fellow legislators from across the aisle about things you might agree on or have in common? Are you willing to engage with your colleagues for an off-the-record conversation about engaging differences constructively?

During this workshop, legislators begin with a 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 – current or former state legislators from nearby states – move the large group into breakout rooms for small group work. No more than 20 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.

The Case for Civil Discourse: Founding Fathers (1 or 1½ hour session)
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.
The Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis(1 or 1½ hour session)
This session explores how to realize the benefits of diverse perspectives within a legislature or a caucus without falling into dysfunctional conflict. Drawing on research in group decision making, National Institute for Civil Discourse Executive Director Keith Allred leads this interactive, skills building session. The conversation starts with a discussion of the Kennedy Administration’s decision to sponsor an incursion into 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.Leading with Civility -A Practical Approach (1 or 1 ½ hour session)Have you ever wondered what makes a great leader—one that can motivate and inspire others to achieve extraordinary results? Drawing on their long legislative experiences leading a state Senate or House, a member of Next Generation Leadership or the Advisory Board will explore 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.
Getting to Yes: A Legislative Budget Building Exercise(1 ½-2 ½ hours)
The only way to get a bill passed in the legislature or an ordinance passed through city council is to get a majority of your colleagues to support it. There are no dictators in American politics. While coalition building is essential for a functioning democracy, it seems to have become a lost art of late. In this session, we will help participants rediscover the art of finding common ground by examining and practicing strategies for finding that “sweet spot” in negotiations where everybody gets something and nobody gets nothing. Participants will take part in an activity where they have to find consensus as members of the House and Senate Budget Conference Committee on a variety of contentious issues.Getting to Yes: An Exercise in Bringing Diverse Groups Together (1 ½-2 ½ hours)The only way to get a bill passed in the legislature or an ordinance passed through city council is to get a majority of your colleagues to support it. There are no dictators in American politics. While coalition building is essential for a functioning democracy, it seems to have become a lost art of late. In this session, we will help participants rediscover the art of finding common ground by examining and practicing strategies for finding that “sweet spot” in negotiations where everybody gets something and nobody gets nothing. Participants will take part in a negotiating exercise where they are applying for a funding grant for early childhood program and must get parents, teachers, funders, advocates and libertarians on board.What Does it Mean to Lead?
A Look from Plato’s Cave (¾-1 hour)
Leadership is never easy, especially when those being led want to go a different direction than their leaders. Using Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” this session examines the responsibility of leaders when those they lead, perhaps out of fear or ignorance, don’t want to follow. Should the leader leave them where they are familiar but in darkness or lead them out into a better place even if they are reluctant? We will examine what it means to lead and the “darkness” that may restrict all of us in our “caves.”

Workshop Resources

Workshop Guide

Use this Workshop Guide to begin the process to bring an in-person  “Building Trust through Civil Discourse” Workshop to your State.

Download the Workshop Guide

Offerings and Outcomes

Download our handout to learn more about Next Generation, our virtual and in-person program offerings, and workshop outcomes.

Download the Handout