Press Release


The (Un)Common Good begins with a conversation at the Union League Club of Chicago on Thursday, January 27.

CHICAGO – The (Un)Common Good discussion series will kick off with, “Who Decides? Democracy and Divide,” a conversation with experts who are thinking and writing about ideological segregation and polarized discussion, and their impact on democracy. This event will take place on Thursday, January 27, 2011, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Union League Club of Chicago (65 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago). It is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. For reservations, visit, or contact the IHC at 312.422.5580 or

Many have lamented the current state of public discourse seems to be worsening, noting the airwaves dominated by acrimony, partisan slogans and a lack of empathy, and wonder if we have lost the ability to disagree respectfully. Some research also suggests that Americans are surrounding themselves only with those who share their views. If true, what does this mean for representative democracy and for our ability to make difficult decisions together? What is the role and responsibility of the mainstream media, and social media in our public discourse?

In the interest of tackling these and other questions, The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) presents The (Un)Common Good, a winter/spring series that will bring together people across political perspectives to  discuss contemporary issues in ways that are passionate, yet thoughtful and respectful.

The presenters for the kick-off event are Danielle Allen, Ph.D., author and UPS Foundation Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study; Wayne E. Baker, author of the books America’s Crisis of Values: Reality and Perception and Citizenship and Crisis: Arab Detroit after 9/11, Professor of Management and Organizations for the University of Michigan, Professor of Sociology and Organizational Studies for the Institute for Social Research;  Bill Bishop, Co-author of The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart, and co-editor of The Daily Yonder; Brendan Nyhan, Ph.D., Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of Michigan and former Co-Editor of Spinsanity; Pete Peterson, Executive Director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership, School of Public Policy Pepperdine University; and Ralph Cintron, Ph.D., Department of English, University of Illinois at Chicago (moderator).

From January 2011 to Spring 2011, the Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) will present The (Un)Common Good, a discussion series that will bring together scholars, artists, writers, journalists and audience members.  For a full calendar of events or for more information, please visit or call 312.422.5580.

Upcoming (Un)Common Good programs include “How Free? Freedom and Security” (March 9, 2011, Carbondale), “What’s Possible? Government and the Economy” (TBD) and “What’s Fair? Individual and Community Responsibility (TBD).”

Lead sponsorship for The (Un)Common Good is provided by The Boeing Company, with additional travel support provided by Southwest Airlines. WBEZ Chicago is the media sponsor.  Series partners include the American Bar Association, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, and Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.  This program is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Views and opinions expressed by individual panelists, scholars, and artists in The (Un)Common Good do not necessarily state or reflect those of partner organizations in the series, the Illinois Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities, or the Illinois General Assembly.


The Illinois Humanities Council is a nonprofit educational organization [501 (c) 3] dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities. Organized in 1973 as the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the IHC creates programs and funds organizations that promote greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities by all Illinoisans, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. The IHC is supported by state, federal, and private funds.


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