Learning to Disagree Better

Numerous Resources Exist to Help Americans Learn How to Overcome Toxic Polarization

Many Americans tell pollsters they’re deeply concerned and exhausted by the hyperpartisanship and polarization in our country. Americans express worry about speaking with relatives, friends and coworkers, fearing everyday conversations can too quickly devolve into contentious, mean-spirited political disagreements.

This state of political divisiveness in the United States prompted National Governors Association (NGA) Chair Utah Governor Spencer Cox to launch the Disagree Better initiative as a campaign designed to show Americans how they can work through political differences to find solutions to some of the most difficult problems facing our states and our nation.

Through the Disagree Better initiative, Governor Cox has joined with fellow Governors to help raise awareness about different learning opportunities Americans can access to learn new ways to have more thoughtful conversations with their families, friends and colleagues. As part of this work, Governor Cox and NGA Vice Chair Colorado Governor Jared Polis recently participated in a conversation at Colorado State University, which has focused the 2023-2024 school year on the theme “Year of Democracy and Civic Engagement.”

Following the event, Colorado State University Global (CSU Global) launched a fully online course, called Disagree Better, to teach healthy conflict styles and strategies to find resolution to political disagreements. Governor Polis shared, “Our differences make us stronger. I’m thrilled that CSU Global is creating the first Disagree Better course in the nation that will help us all better work through our differences to find solutions to the most difficult problems facing Colorado and our nation.”

The new CSU Global course will lend to a number of existing educational resources Governor Cox has been highlighting through his social media channels, media appearances and events held to raise awareness about the Disagree Better initiative. These learning opportunities, such as online classes and social media campaigns are designed to provide people with the tools needed to foster healthy disagreement and reduce political division and polarization in their homes, places of work and communities. Governor Cox believes these educational resources can help foster “a sense of intellectual curiosity, humility, empathy and a willingness to see complexity [so] we can find common ground and improve our families, our communities and our nation.”

Individuals interested in learning ways to join the Disagree Better movement can visit the initiative page for the latest information about the initiative, including more resources designed to help Americans bring the Disagree Better ideas and principles to their homes, communities and political engagement. Americans can also share information about Disagree Better on their social platforms using #DisagreeBetter and linking to resources; below, are a few that have been recently featured.

Polarization Detox Challenge

The Polarization Detox Challenge is a free online tool users can access to help “overcome the toxic polarization harming [their] health, [their] relationships, and our country’s ability to thrive.” Americans can participate in the challenge by visiting the Polarization Detox Challenge website to register to complete one exercise per weekday for a period of four weeks. The challenge is designed to help users break the cycle of toxic polarization and learn tools to foster constructive conflict.

Braver Angels Workshops

Disagree Better has partnered with Braver Angels, a nonprofit working to depolarize America by uniting Americans through a number of grassroots and community engagement programs, including workshops designed to help attendees learn “about the skills needed to have difficult conversations” while also fostering personal connections between people who have different political beliefs.

Informative Videos & Podcasts

To advance the Disagree Better initiative, NGA is holding convenings across the country to highlight the good work already happening and connect with the organizations and experts working to advance the goals of the initiative. NGA’s Disagree Better YouTube channel features videos of all of the Disagree Better events NGA has held. Watching the videos will help viewers hear directly from experts who share proven strategies for addressing hyperpartisanship and polarization in the United States.

The Disagree Better initiative also is working to encourage elected officials to record video messages with another elected official from a different political party. The videos help raise awareness about the campaign and model what healthy conflict can look like. The videos are available on NGA’s YouTube channel.

NGA also continues to share informative podcasts that relate to the initiative, including: