Course Dates and Time

June 8-9, 2017 or July 20-21, 2017
9:00 a.m - 5:00 p.m.

 Course Cost

Regular Tuition: $1,600

Course cost includes a light breakfast, coffee breaks, and class materials. It does not include lunch or housing.

Ready to Explore Today's Environment of Polarization?

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Polarized America: Origins and Remedies

American politics and voters are currently at the highest stage of polarization since the Civil War.  As a result of the heightened state of the partisan divide, conflict between -- as well as within -- the branches of our government, including within the political parties themselves, has resulted in near gridlock on all but the most urgent of legislative issues.  Meanwhile, the resolution of many policies on which there is broad public consensus -- from gun policy to entitlement reform to campaign finance reform to comprehensive immigration policy – remains seemingly gridlocked.  Not surprisingly, public confidence in our political leaders and our political institutions remains at historically low levels.

This class will explore the historical origins of contemporary polarization and partisanship, reaching back over 200 years to the concept and design of the United States government, and following through decades of political, cultural, technological and legal changes that have resulted in our current combative political environment.

Guiding Course Questions

Throughout the course, students will answer:

  • What are the historical antecedents for the emergence of deep partisan disagreements? 

  • What issues, developments or actions fueled the growth in polarization?

  • What can we as a nation do to find the common ground necessary to address longstanding challenges?

Target Audience

This course may be of particular interest to individuals looking to better understand the historical causes and remedies of today's polarized environment.



John Lawrence is uniquely experienced to provide both a thorough historical analysis of the roots of polarization and the practical means for restoring civility and collaboration to our political debate. A veteran of nearly four decades as a high-ranking staff member in the House of Representatives – the last 8 as chief of staff to Speaker Nancy Pelosi – Dr. Lawrence has been teaching courses on American politics and the Congress at the University of California Washington Center and Georgetown University’s McCourt School over the past four years. He is the author of the forthcoming book, The Class: Rebels, Reformers and the Rise of Congressional Partisanship in the Post-Watergate Congress (Johns Hopkins University Press, December, 2017), as well as numerous articles and columns on recent politics. He blogs at DOMEocracy (


Continuing Education Units (CEUs)

Students who complete this course will earn 1.2 continuing education units.

Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) Alignment

The content of this course covers competencies addressed by the following ECQs: Leading Change; Leading People

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Additional Executive Institute Courses

Develop new skills by participating in another short course this year.


Questions? Contact Our Executive Education Team

Whether you are looking to broaden your skill set or are seeking to customize an educational experience for a group of employees, we can help you find or build the right program to fit your needs, schedule, and budget.

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