Fighting Political Polarization in the College Classroom

Rose teaches a course called “How to Think in the Age of Political Polarization.” He says he never shares his political views in the classroom; instead, he leads the discussion like a “ringmaster” of tough topics. Photo by Chris Hildreth for Duke Magazine.

In its 2023 fall edition, Duke Magazine interviewed John Rose, Associate Director of the Civil Discourse Project at the Kenan Institute of Ethics, about his popular course “How to Think in the Age of Political Polarization.” Rose describes how he encourages students to engage in dialogue by first recognizing their shared positive intent. This allows the class to explore a variety of contentious topics in their discussions. 

Rose’s approach is getting attention. His 2021 Wall Street Journal op-ed struck a chord with a former member of the Duke Board of Trustees, Peter Kahn, who worked to create a related alumni group, Friends for Free Speech & Intellectual Diversity at Duke. And after Jerry Seinfeld’s daughter mentioned the class she was taking with Rose, the comedian himself stopped by a discussion about freedom of expression in comedy last spring.

“I think there are few things more important at this moment in our history as a country than fighting against the kind of polarization that is so rampant in our communities.” – John Rose

Read the full article by Andrea Billups on the Duke Magazine website. 

Kenan Professor Explores the Ethics of Representation through Album Art

Wayne Norman
Wayne Norman climbs on his desk to show off his record collection in his office in the East Duke Building. Photo by Chris Hildreth for Duke Magazine.

In its 2023 Fall Edition, Duke Magazine interviews Wayne Norman, the Mike and Ruth Mackowski Professor of Ethics in the Department of Philosophy and the Kenan Institute for Ethics, about his office display of records. Beyond their aesthetic value, Norman uses the album covers as a conversation starter about the music industry and race, pointing out the large number of albums by Black musicians in the ‘50s and ‘60s that have photographs of white women on the cover. He says has only found one example of the inverse: an album by a white musician with a Black woman on the cover.

What does this mean? He offers some theories.

“This category, it helps us tell a story about the mechanisms of systemic racism within a society. It’s a very vivid illustration of how an outrageous practice can hide in plain sight until it can’t.” – Wayne Norman

Read the full article by Corbie Hill on the Duke Magazine website, and watch the video interview with Dr. Norman below.