The Intercollegiate Civil Disagreement Partnership (ICDP) is a consortium of five colleges and universities in the U.S. committed to reducing polarization by teaching students how to connect across political difference.
- To bring together students from a range of public, private, two-year, and four-year institutions in order to develop their abilities to engage in and lead conversations about difficult, important topics across political difference;
- To strengthen student-led initiatives seeking to reduce polarization on partner institutions’ campuses;
- To contribute to research on important civic indicators like efficacy and engagement by documenting and measuring the effects of the program’s efforts
As its name suggests, the ICDP is truly a partnership. Leadership of the program is distributed among its members equally, with primary contacts at each school working in concert to plan, adapt, and execute a collaborative vision of the program. But, unique to our program, the commitment to reducing polarization and empowering students to reach across political different is anchored in existing organizations on campus. The ICDP reflects an awareness that we can be more effective together than on our own.
The partner institutions are intentionally and purposefully diverse. They include a mix of public and private institutions; two-year and four-year institutions; a historically Black college with a strong focus on education for military veterans; those that are primarily Hispanic-serving; and two institutions known for high research activity. In its first year, the program has accepted eight fellows from each of the five participating institutions, for a total of 40 student fellows.
Partnership Institutions and Leadership Team
- St. Philips College, San Antonio, TX
- California State University at Bakersfield, CA
- Santa Fe College, Gainesville, FL
- Stanford University, Stanford, CA
- Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
The ICDP has only begun to scratch the surface of its potential. In feedback we have collected during our first year, fellows have told us how their experience in the program has replaced skepticism about civic discourse with optimism about the possibility of dialogue. They have described how this work has helped them interact with people at work, in their family, and in their classrooms.
Their enthusiasm has encouraged us to scale both up and out. By scale up, we seek support that would enable us to support students beyond their first fellowship year as they bring their new knowledge and skills back to their campuses and communities. We also hope to build stronger connections among our fellows through an annual in-person summit where the students can benefit from direct engagement with each other and the opportunity to share their knowledge and experiences that affect their views and values. By scale out, we seek to expand our national network of partner institutions. We have already heard from other schools that would like to join our work. We need dedicated resources to make such expansion possible, while also maintaining the high quality of our current work.