Mercatus Center Announces Six New Visiting Fellows with the Program on Pluralism and Civil Exchange

Arlington, VA—The Mercatus Center at George Mason University is pleased to announce the addition of a cohort of six new Visiting Fellows with the Program on Pluralism and Civil Exchange. The Program, which launched in 2021, focuses on building pathways toward a free and peaceful society.

Dr. Andrew Jason Cohen will develop a principles-based way to apply ethics in civil discourse around difficult-to-discuss issues in a new book. The book encourages more open and honest discourse about ethically and politically fraught topics with guidance that helps readers to clarify their own views and understand those of others.

Dr. Clay Routledge will focus on a project that explores the psychology of progress: at a time of great technological, scientific, medical, and social progress, there are trends that show growing cynicism, distrust, disconnection, and anxiety among Americans. These are trends that also fuel illiberalism and diminish our ability to coexist peacefully. Prof. Routledge will explore the emergence of this tension (growth vs. anxiety) and the cognitive attributes (curiosity, toleration, resilience, etc.) that sustain progress. This is a collaborative project with the Sheila and Robert Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth at North Dakota State University. 

Dr. Barbara A. McGraw explores the question:  is it possible to construe the American experiment as grounded in a common mission, touchstone, or even sacred ground, such that our public debates and conversations can be rooted in this underlying framework? This project develops this common mission, which is based on advancing pluralism, and argues that various pathologies emerge when there is no sense of common purpose even if very broadly construed.

Dr. Ian Marcus Corbin will complete a book that draws on philosophy, science, literature, and social science, to explore some of the good and bad ways that humans seek belonging, what happens when we get it, and what happens when we don’t. When we become isolated and lack meaningful friendships, loneliness sets in. Research shows that loneliness leads to the loss of focus and self-regulation, paranoia, exaggerated risk detection, and manic stabs at belonging. The book will look at solitude as one potential antidote to addressing loneliness, polarization, and a path towards authentic friendship.

Dr. Zohar Atkins will produce a series of 50-75 podcast conversations with intellectuals, poets, religious leaders, and others with a focus on pluralism, but also connecting abstract ideas to questions on how to live. It will model pluralism and inspire an ethos of pluralism among listeners.

Dr. Mark David Hall will co-write a book with John Wilsey correcting both Christian nationalism and its critics, offering reasons for why all citizens should engage in politics in a civil manner and respect a robustly pluralistic public square.

These six fellows join the Program’s five current visiting fellows and will be part of ongoing conversations about the core values necessary to build a free and open society, as well as the challenges to maintaining such a society.  

To learn more about the Program on Pluralism and Civil Exchange, please visit our website. For media inquiries, please contact Matthew Boyer at 703-993-8094 or [email protected].