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

Arlington, VA—The Mercatus Center’s Program on Pluralism and Civil Exchange is pleased to announce its second cohort of grant recipients. After issuing a call for project proposals in January, the Program has chosen seven additional projects to support with its initial investment, joining the 12 projects announced in February. Details on the recipients and their projects are below.


A new platform for online writing to reduce polarization

Jacob Grier, along with Courtney Knapp and Jay Mutzafi, are developing Seabird, a new platform for sharing online writing. It seeks to reduce polarization and tribalism by focusing exclusively on sharing external content, limiting the frequency of users’ post, and reducing the potential for rapid virality. It focuses on quality and thoughtful discourse by bringing back some of the appealing aspects of the early blogging era. This project will generate insights on innovative approaches to making the social media environment more friendly towards pluralism.

A civil discourse social media campaign in Germany

Daniel Privitera is managing director of streitgut, a German-based organization that believes that the suboptimal norms around public discourse that encourage zero-sum thinking needs to change. They seek to make public discourse more measurably constructive. They have teamed up with leading experts who study polarization and other social media experts to launch a large-scale, first-of-its-kind social media campaign this summer in Germany, across multiple social media platforms. The campaign provides dozens of civil discourse formats on various topics that can be popularized. If successful, this campaign can become a template for launching positive, pluralism-oriented social media engagement to foster depolarization and comity among citizens in the United States and other parts of the world.

Advancing pluralism in journalism

Trusting News is a journalism research and training organization that will take on an initiative that is committed to advancing pluralism in journalism. Led by Joy Mayer, Trusting News is building a network of newsrooms willing to collaborate and experiment on strategies for earning trust across diverse perspectives, values, and experiences. They are offering workshops and consultations to newsrooms that focus on challenges like hiring for intellectual diversity and listening to communities across differences.

A pilot program to tackle economic challenges through grassroots pluralism

Urban Rural Action (URA) is a national grassroots organization that brings together Americans across divides to tackle some of the most urgent challenges. URA believes that in addition to engaging in civil discourse, fostering pluralism requires positive interactions in circumstances when participants are working across divides to accomplish shared goals. Under the leadership of executive director Joe Bubman, URA is commencing a 9-month pilot program that will recruit a diverse group of community members to tackle economic challenges within Maryland. The goal is to build relationships by tackling economic challenges and tackle economic challenges by building relationships.

A middle school curriculum using obituaries to elevate our shared humanity

Peter Sipe will develop and teach a curriculum for middle school students that uses obituaries as instructional tools. Obituaries provide great value when they highlight the achievements, inventions, and interventions for people who have changed our world for the better. They can inspire the young towards causes and virtues that elevate our shared humanity rather than focus on causes that divide us.

A writing and research project on building institutions with liberal values

Nikhil Mulani will conduct a writing and research project that deepens our practical understanding on how to build institutions aligned with liberal values over the very long term. Through case studies the project will look at certain core dimensions that are key to institutional building and strength. The insights from this project will inform how we build the next generation institutions that sustain the ethos for liberalism and pluralism.

A project to make the argument for immigrants, athletes, and inclusiveness

This project under the Institute for Immigration Research at George Mason University, directed by James Witte, makes the case that sports has the potential to offer new opportunities for the underrepresented. Particularly with regards to immigration, it explores how immigrant athletes can use their visibility and influence to extend the spirit of inclusiveness, pluralism, and equality to the newest Americans. In addition to surveys and analyses of comments on social media about immigrant athletes, the IIR will look at non-fungible tokens (NFTs) tied to athletes to analyze the sports NFT market to determine public valuation and sentiments of native-born and foreign athletes and allow the IIR to understand the cultural impacts of immigrant and minority athletes.

Collecting and analyzing data on pluralism in classrooms

This project under OpenMind will build, deploy, and analyze a new annual survey that aims to answer the question, “What is the state of polarization and constructive dialogue in the classroom and what are the current challenges?” OpenMind will collect and analyze data, as well as track trends over time to inform the field of pluralism, particularly in the context of K-12 and college classrooms across the nation.


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].