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.