Rogers Develops an Idea for Identifying an American Spirit

In an AP/NORC 2017 poll, 71 percent said that we are losing an American spirit.  Divided Community Project Steering Committee Member and OSU Moritz College of Law emeritus faculty member Nancy Rogers’ forthcoming publication asks suggests if we could articulate our current aspirations, a current American spirit that would be broadly embraced across divisions, it might promote a more constructive problem-solving attitude and ameliorate the effects of the nation’s bitter divisions.  Nancy’s proposal for identifying an American spirit is posted with the Social Science Research Network and is forthcoming in the Journal of Dispute Resolution.  An abstract of her article follows:

Could Americans identify a current American spirit that would ameliorate the effects of the nation’s bitter divisions? A number of commentators answer “yes.” This article reviews dispute resolution theory and uses historical and comparative illustrations to provide a checklist for those optimists willing to give it a try. First, the article discusses the potential benefits of a deeply and broadly embraced American spirit. An American spirit could spark more frequent: collaborative approaches, consideration of other viewpoints, prioritization in advocacy, and resistance to divisive rhetoric. Second, the article draws on the work of other scholars to suggest considerations for identifying an American spirit that might achieve those benefits. An American spirit will be more likely to ameliorate polarization if it: points toward bridging current divisions, is especially – better yet, uniquely – American, seems natural and authentic, attracts support across the major divisions in this nation, and encourages optimism and a sense of belonging as an American. Third, the article outlines a process for coming up with potential elements of an American spirit and for trying them out on expanding circles of Americans. Fourth, it points out that identifying a current American spirit would not preclude parallel efforts to achieve change through advocacy for political candidates and changes in the law. While the success of an American spirit project remains uncertain, little would be lost in trying, and an American spirit project might help Americans work together to solve the nation’s problems.

To review the complete article, click here.

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