The Laboratory for The American Conversation

New! Pre-register now for The Science of Public Discourse: A Guide for Navigating Divisive Conversations

This continuing education online course by The Laboratory for the American Conversion is designed to help you understand how to have contentious conversations that don't escalate into the culture wars that have become all too common. You can apply this in your workplace and with family and friends.

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A record 77% of Americans believe that our nation is divided on the most important values.*

Public discourse about 21st century problems, such as COVID-19, climate change and drought, is divisive.

A record 77% of Americans believe that our nation is divided on the most important values.

The Laboratory for the American Conversation's methodology uses social theory, discourse analysis and large-scale surveys to uncover what values communities express when they enter into public discourse, and what threats they are trying to avoid.

*Gallup survey, 2016

A new kind of conversation

Our researchers promote intellectually and inter-culturally rich environments that fosters dialogue among diverse groups on critical issues confronting the American public.

This work advances the public good and confronts complex problems.

We need to find new ways forward even when finding common ground remains elusive

Core beliefs

  • Resilience is achieved by bringing together scientific data about 21st century problems in dialogue with community-based value systems and worldviews.
  • Dialogue can be equitable, diverse and inclusive when the process and its outcomes are informed by community members, irrespective of their social status or power.
  • Healthy community dialogue is critical to creating democratic policies.
  • Research on cultural worldviews and psychological threats is an important and necessary tool in identifying successful communication pathways for people with differing perspectives and opinions. Bringing people together for conversation alone is not sufficient. Research is not an end in itself, but rather a vehicle for the lab to create communication strategies and tools that can help forge new solutions and promote respectful dialogue.