Past Event

Who Decides? Democracy and Divide

Ever since the 2000 elections, we’ve gotten used to the notion of a nation made up of red states and blue states, a nation divided politically and culturally, whose citizens can find little common ground.

Are Americans more ideologically segregated today than they have been in the past? Are public discussions of controversial issues more polarized? If ideological segregation and polarized discussion characterizes the current state of affairs, what does this mean for representative democracy and for our ability to make difficult decisions together? What is the role and responsibility of the mainstream media, and social media in our public discourse?

Please join us for a conversation with experts who are thinking, writing and talking about these issues, as we launch our new series, The (Un)Common Good.


  • Danielle Allen, Ph.D. – UPS Foundation Professor, Institute for Advanced Study; author – Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown v. Board of Education and Why Plato Wrote
  • Wayne E. Baker, Ph.D. – University of Michigan, Robert P.Thome Professor of Management and Organizations; Professor of Sociology; Professor of Organizational Studies, LSA & Faculty Associate, Institute for Social Research; author – America’s Crisis of Values: Reality and Perception
  • Bill Bishop Co-author, The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart; co-editor The Daily Yonder, a web-based publication covering rural America.
  • Brendan Nyhan, Ph.D. – Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of Michigan; former Co-Editor of Spinsanity
  • Pete Peterson – Executive Director, Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership, School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University
  • Ralph Cintron, Ph.D. – Department of English, University of Illinois at Chicago (moderator)

This event is free and open to the public. Registration is required and can be made online, by emailing, or by calling 312.422.5580.

***The Union League Club of Chicago (ULCC) maintains a “business casual” dress code
— i.e. no jeans/denim;
a collared shirt and slacks/skirt are required of all guests.***

Who Decides?” is presented in partnership with the Union League Club of Chicago (ULCC).

Lead sponsorship for The (Un)Common Good series is provided by The Boeing Company, with additional support provided by Southwest Airlines.
WBEZ Chicago is the media sponsor.


This program is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Views and opinions expressed by individual panelists, scholars, and artists in The (Un)Common Good do not necessarily state or reflect those of partner organizations in the series, the Illinois Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities, or the Illinois General Assembly.