Democracy and the Informed Citizen

Civil Discourse in an Uncivil Age:

The Quest for a Post-Partisan Citizenship


Tuesday September 11, 2018 – University of Wyoming A&S Auditorium

Presidential Engagement Initiative:

Malcom Wallop Civic Engagement Project presents

Civil Discourse in an Uncivil Age

The Quest for a Post-partisan Citizenship

With Alexander Heffner: host of The Open Mind on PBS

Alexander Heffner (@Heffner A) will present a keynote address followed by a panel discussion with notable Wyoming political figures and public servants. The program will discuss the effects of divisiveness on discourse and governance and the impact of social media, fake news, and filter bubbles that polarize information intake.

What are possible prescriptions to correct this vicious cycle? How can our democratic footprint translate into prosocial instead of antisocial behavior? How can the press restore faith in our civic life and the construction of public policy?

Alexander Heffner is the host of The Open Mind (@OpenMindTV), a nationally broadcast PBS public affairs interview program, and the longest running show of its kind in the history of Ameri­can public television. He is coauthor of A Documentary History of the United States (Penguin, 2018).

This event will be the focus of a future Wyoming Chronicle episode on Wyoming PBS, making participation in the public forum widely available to students and citizens across the state of Wyoming.

This program is present in partnership with University of Wyoming Office of the President, UW Center for Global Studies, UW College of Arts and Science, UW School of Politics, Public Affairs, and International Studies, Wyoming Humanities, and Wyoming PBS.

I Respectfully Disagree


Red states and blue states are drifting further apart, ideologically. Rural youth are migrating faster and faster to urban centers. Small town newspapers and radio stations are going silent. Families can’t even carry on a respectful conversation at the 4th of July potluck! Never has it been more important for the media to step forward and moderate conversations across divides.

That’s why Wyoming Public Media (WPM) started a series called “I Respectfully Disagree.” Some of the conversations we’ve aired are between people in Wyoming who are modeling civil discourse in their daily lives, like a conversation between an LGBTQ advocate and a Catholic deacon. Other conversations in the series are arranged by WPM. An example is the breaking bread event WPM hosted in Gillette, bringing together coal miners, immigrants, social workers and others to talk about the hard times in the area. We look forward to trying creative approaches whether, that’s through our reporting, guest reporting by non-journalists, or hosting pop-up newsrooms.

This program is presented in partnership with Wyoming Public Media and Wyoming Humanities.

Learn more

Democracy in Wyoming: A Reader from Wyoming Humanities


For years, Wyoming Humanities published Heal Up and Hair Over: A Civility Reader. It was read in the Wyoming Legislature, educators conferences, and distributed around the state. It was necessary and needed then, and our current national tone suggests it is even more necessary now. But it’s time for a change.

Under the director and editorial prowess of our board member and UW assistant professor Scott Henkel, we bring you Democracy in Wyoming: A Reader from Wyoming Humanities. As the follow-up to the Heal Up and Hair Over, the new publication will examine several themes which are necessary for democratic participation in a civil society.

  • Free speech and the courage to speak
  • The search for truth and fact through debate
  • Open-mindedness strengthening citizens
  • The role of civility and protest

This new publication will build off the themes and conversations from Heal Up and Hair Over, while starting a new conversation about how we move into the next decade of democracy stronger and more equipped for the challenges of our constantly evolving world. Keep your eye out in January of 2019 when we look forward to publishing.

Democracy and the Informed Citizen


These projects are part of the “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” initiative, administered by the Federation of State Councils. The initiative seeks to deepen the public’s knowledge and appreciate of the vital connections between democracy, the humanities, journalism, and an informed citizenry. We thank The Andrew Mellon W. Mellon Foundation for their generous support of this initiative and the Pulitzer Prizes for the partnership. Join the conversation online using the hashtag #humcitizen

Wyoming Humanities relies on donations from individuals and businesses to provide top quality programming to all of Wyoming’s residents. Interested in donating?

Subscribe To Our Newsletter!

Join our mailing list to receive our latest press releases and blog articles.  Keep an ear to the ground with humanities!

You have successfully subscribed!