April 15, 2013 – Is common ground possible in our polarized political and cultural environment?

Part of the Common Ground Initiative

Panelists: Michael DeWilde, Barbara Elliott, Winston Elliott, Ted McAllister, Paul Murphy, Noreen Myers

Join us for a robust exploration of what it means to be a progressive and what it means to be a conservative. Our goal is not to get bogged down in policy wrangling over the issue de jour. Our panelists are interested in the cultural, historic, philosophical, and perhaps religious elements that help explain their commitment to their tradition. The focus and format will provide an opportunity for the vivid articulation of first principles and the fruitful exchange of definitions, redefinitions, reasons, and justifications for the panelists believing the way they do.

This event extends the exploration of the theme of bipartisan cooperation in a democratic culture, which we started to explore with Richard Norton Smith, H. W. Brands, Kiron Skinner, Hank Meijer, and Gleaves Whitney during the NEH-funded town hall, America’s Senator: The Unexpected Odyssey of Arthur Vandenberg on November 14, 2012.

Event Partners

The Hauenstein Center is proud to partner with the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Russell Kirk Center, The Business Ethics Center at GVSU, and The Henry Institute at Calvin College:













Some of the questions and topics that will be explored include:

1. Define — or redefine — what it means to be a conservative or progressive.

2. What misconceptions would you like to debunk about your tradition?

3. Having heard some misconceptions debunked, what intellectual or political obstacles would prevent you from working constructively with the other side?

4. What is the role of the state vis-à-vis civil society in helping the most vulnerable citizens?

5. Under what conditions and in what capacity do you see the United States intervening in foreign countries?

6. Should the progressive or conservative school of thought be revised to speak to the rising generation? If so, how?

7. What seems to be the biggest obstacle to finding common ground with the other tradition?

8. What question(s) would you like to put to one or more participants of the other tradition?

9. Is there any area of the other tradition, from your perspective, that offers opportunities for finding common ground in order to better the human condition? (We are thinking, for example, of Jonathan Haidt’s ground-breaking work on how conservatives and progressives engage in moral reasoning, and where they speak meaningfully to each other, and where they talk past each other. The discussion at this point could also tackle specific policy controversies.)


Speaker Bio’s

The three conservative presenters with biographical links are:

– Barbara Elliott, president, Center for Cultural Renewal, Houston, Texas, and professor in the Honors College at Houston Baptist University http://www.centerforrenewal.org/About_Barbara_J._Elliott.html

– Winston Elliott, Editor-in-Chief of The Imaginative Conservative and President of The Free Enterprise Institute http://www.Imaginativeconservative.org and http://www.imaginativeconservative.org/p/winston-elliott.html

– Ted McAllister, history professor at Pepperdine University and currently a scholar-in-residence at Princeton University http://publicpolicy.pepperdine.edu/academics/faculty/default.htm?faculty=ted_mcallister


The three progressive presenters with biographical links are:

-Michael DeWilde, philosophy professor, GVSU, and founder of Working Classics http://www.gvsu.edu/philosophy/michael-dewilde-41.htm and http://michaeladewilde.com/

-Paul Murphy, history professor, GVSU http://www.gvsu.edu/history/paul-v-murphy-111.htm

-Noreen Myers, employment law attorney, Grand Rapids, recently retired chairwoman of the GVSU board of trustees http://hauensteincenter.org/noreen-k-myers/