Mercatus’ Program on Pluralism & Civil Exchange Announces First Cohort of Grant Recipients

Arlington, VA—The Mercatus Center’s Program on Pluralism and Civil Exchange is pleased to announce its first cohort of grant recipients. Less than a month after issuing a call for project proposals, the Program has chosen 12 projects to support with its initial investment. More information about how these projects fit within the program’s vision is available at Discourse Magazine. Details on the recipients and their projects are below.


A politics, philosophy, and economics (PPE) reading program

Kevin Gomez will build a PPE reading program at the DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State University that engages students from different disciplinary backgrounds. The center seeks, in time, to host a larger PPE event in Northwest Florida that draws many universities in the region and ultimately incorporates the tools for civil discourse in their PPE discussions.  

A high-school curriculum on critical thinking

The Mill Center for the Advancement of Critical Thinking will develop a scalable curriculum for fostering critical thinking and viewpoint diversity at the high-school level, in collaboration with teachers and administrators. Led by Ilana Redstone, the Mill Center is a newly founded organization dedicated to advance critical thinking.

A book on economic nationalism

Henry Thomson is completing a book on economic nationalism and a series of derivative writing and commentary that sheds light on the latest wave of economic nationalism and reflects on its effects on liberalism.

Analysis of the historical foundations of liberalism and pluralism

Desiree Desierto and Mark Koyama will study the historical and institutional foundations of liberalism and pluralism in 17th century England. The project aims to reinvigorate the study of liberalism in the 21st century, taking lessons from 17th century England that shed light on enduring questions related to toleration and on the challenges in building and maintaining a liberal society.

A book project on overcoming racism

Sheena Mason is completing a book project, entitled The Theory of Racelessness, and pursuing public intellectual work that develops and advances a theory on how to overcome and transcend racism. Mason will speak, write, consult, and educate audiences on the weaknesses of the current framework and language for understanding racism and posit an alternative view that replaces the current framework for discussing race.

A website on polarization trends in the United States

With a background in computational journalism and peacebuilding, Jonathan Stray will build a web platform and newsletter that curates content that becomes a high-quality source of information for those who want to monitor US polarization and address it from the discipline of conflict transformation. It will feature research, news, essays, interviews, reporting, and commentary on polarization trends in the United States.

Using data analytics to identify strategies to boost pluralism

Edward Oughton is developing an online tool that visualizes relational words and themes between different political ideologies and groups active in society by mining Twitter data. He aims to highlight areas of difference and, more importantly, to identify unknown similarities between social groups, which might potentially support mutual understanding and collaboration. This is a tool that can help those in the business of finding common ground to identify areas where the common ground can be discovered.

An in-print art and commentary magazine

Root Quarterly, produced by Heather Shayne Blakeslee, is an in-print magazine developed as a place for art and beauty that cuts across partisan divides and celebrates regional makers and doers; a place for heterodox thinking and for in-the-real-world engagement. RQ is also involved in community building, coordinating with groups and organizations to bring people in the community together to address common problems.

A book on disagreement

John Nerst, creator of, is producing a book on an emergent area of study, erisology, which is the study of disagreement. The book will help a general lay audience understand the nature and mechanics of disagreement. It seeks to take ideas from several academic disciplines to inform readers on concepts that generate disagreement and cause us to talk past one another, including the ambiguity of language.

A game that illuminates the spread of misinformation

Collaborators Tarunima Prabhakar, Adhiraj Singh, and Denny George are developing an adaptive multi-player digital card game that lets players experience the interaction of factors resulting in polarization and proliferation of false information and the long-term consequences of individual action. Its makers seek to raise awareness about the nature of individual actions on the phenomena of polarization and the spread of false information.

Studies on civic equality

Ryan Muldoon and Jacob Neiheisel will develop a series of studies that explore how improvements in civic equality for vulnerable groups can fuel sectarian hostilities. The studies will investigate the rebalancing that occurs when vulnerable groups that become less vulnerable are less willing to accept costly social burdens. It will also discuss tolerance as a modeled social norm that is tethered to reciprocity.

A Substack addressing the intellectual foundations of political liberalism

As a journalist with decades of experience, Robert Tracinski will continue to build his Substack, dubbed Symposium, to engage public intellectuals about the meaning, application, and intellectual foundations of political liberalism. Symposium seeks to be an attractive source of intellectually accessible content for people across political divides who want to reinvigorate understanding of the liberal foundations of a free society.


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