Our Mission

We seek to use and further develop
the science of civil discourse
to find new ways forward
on divisive issues
of regional and national significance.

Join this Important Work

Divisiveness is uncompromising — and more so when issues are closely tied to personal values.

Beneath the rhetoric of our country’s most intractable arguments are real differences in the values and lived experiences of Americans.

At The Laboratory for the American Conversation, researchers work with communities challenged by conflict to unearth deeper values often ignored by popular ideologues, and to develop practical strategies that move divisive conversation forward.

Our approach has proven that new conversations are possible and solutions can be advanced. About guns. About mental health. About the land on which we live and work.

We invite you to support us in this important work.

To learn more, contact Julie Hotchkiss, Director of Development at 541-322-3102.



We seek to use and further develop the science of civil discourse to find new ways forward on divisive issues of regional and national significance.

The Laboratory conducts nonpartisan research to understand and repair the breakdown in civil discourse between socially, culturally, and politically diverse constituencies over issues of common interest, including: firearm safety; immigration; suicide prevention; climate change and other problems affecting the health of the natural and social environments.

The Laboratory brings together diverse groups, including academic scholars and national and regional thought leaders to strategize about solutions for healing the divisiveness that is occurring across political, cultural, and moral lines. These ideas are tested using a research methodology specifically designed to understand why and when discourses have, or do not have broad, cross-cultural appeal.

The Laboratory facilitates the development of social marketing campaigns and research-informed communication tools to be embedded within all types of media. These messages and tools are designed to respect diverse identities and restore an environment of mutual solidarity to face effectively the challenges of the 21st century.



The Laboratory for The American Conversation is housed at Oregon State University - Cascades, located in Bend, Oregon. Bend is a community experiencing rapid population growth, an increase in socioeconomic, political, and cultural diversity, and is politically split between rural and more cosmopolitan voters. Bend thus acts as a microcosm for some of the discourse challenges facing America today.

Because Bend is also a center for recreation travel, restoration, and exposure to natural environments – it serves as a gathering place for nationally recognized researchers, donors, and other thought leaders to come together for intellectual discussions around the state of discourse and culture in America.

The Lab’s reach is not exclusively, or even primarily, local. We see Bend as a place to pilot ideas that will then be tested across national samples; with research driven communication tools used with national audiences. Similarly, we anticipate the network of scholars and other thought leaders who participate to be based throughout the US.