Bringing us back together: Conversations on Civility with Bill Bishop

Better TogetherWe’re getting ready to record another Civility Series lecture. This time it is Bill Bishop that will be on Iowa Public Television.

Today I spent watching cable TV news and recording various programs to look for discourse, arguments, shouting, name-calling, you know, the norm. It will be part of our show open for the program that airs September 24th. The last program on civility we did was with former Iowa congressman, Jim Leach. Mr. Leach is now chairman for the National Endowment For the Humanities. My post on his visit is here.

Bishop is the author of The Big Sort. His speech is at Drake University’s Sheslow Auditorium from 7-830p. We’ll record the speech and play it back on Friday, September 24th.

Mr. Bishop wrote an Op-Ed piece in Sunday’s Des Moines Register. You can read it here. His writing about the University of Oklahoma’s approach to non-segregation on campus.

Here’s a highlight:

He began by making dormitory assignments random. Next, (President David) Boren closed every cafeteria, snack bar and restaurant but one. Every student would have to sit in the same room, at least at mealtime. (When Boren found a school putting an eatery into a new building, “I made them tear it out.”) Every student organization was given an office in the same campus building. Gay, straight, Democrat or libertarian, they would share the same halls.
Boren’s theory was that it’s harder to demonize the people you live with. And he believed, along with the Founding Fathers, that a democracy’s great advantage was heterogeneity. When people with different ideas mixed, they were more likely to find the best solution – and society was less likely to be overwhelmed by faction or extremism.

Do you know of any Iowa schools that take this approach? No more separating, but instead bringing this together?

Any questions for Mr. Bishop? Drop me a line in the comments or to

I look forward to your response.


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