Exploring Bipartisanship with Judy Woodruff and Western Governors

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PBS Books presents a conversation live from the Western Governors’ Association annual meeting. Eight current and former governors will join in discussion with former PBS Newshour anchor and managing editor Judy Woodruff. The WGA is celebrating 40 years of bipartisan cooperation around issues important to the American West.

Governors from nineteen states and three U.S. territories west of the Mississippi make up the membership of the Western Governors’ Association. For 40 years, the WGA has been convening its members to find solutions to pressing issues facing the western United States. From decarbonizing the west to protecting threatened species to imaging a new rural future, the range of issues addressed by the WGA is immense.

Eight current and former governors will take the stage with Judy Woodruff, former anchor and managing editor of the PBS Newshour. They are expected to discuss the WGA’s long history of bipartisan collaboration and solution-seeking, as well as areas where agreement remains elusive.

PBS Books will provide a live feed from this historic event, focusing on the unique challenges facing Western governors, such as water, land use, and native rights directly impact neighboring states, and the roaming wildlife on public lands know no boundaries at all. Many Native American sovereign nations prominent in American culture also make their home in the west. In recent years, nearly all western states have experienced unprecedented growth, challenging traditions and creating new issues for every state.

Current WGA Chair Mark Gordon, the Republican Governor of Wyoming will lead the meeting, wrapping up a full year of investigating how western states can reduce their carbon footprint. At the end of the meeting, he will turn over the gavel to New Mexico’s Democratic Governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, who will announce her chair policy initiative for the coming year.

PBS Books is presenting this conversation as part of a series of public affairs programming exploring the state of civic discourse in the United States and highlighting places where bipartisan conversations take center stage.

This presentation is made possible with the financial support of Western Governors University and a partnership with the Bipartisan Leadership Project of Washington D.C.

About Western Governors Leadership Institute

The Western Governors’ Leadership Institute is a program of the Western Governors’ Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Western Governors’ Association.  The program is designed to recognize, promote and reward the effective exercise of leadership by young people in the west.

Every year the foundation selects young adults to represent their states, territories, and tribes as institute delegates.  Delegates attend the annual meeting of the Western Governors’ Association, as well as a one-day leadership development forum featuring state governors, former governors, and other national thought leaders. The foundation covers all expenses associated with delegate participation.

About Western Governors University

Founded by 19 U.S. governors in 1997, Western Governors University is a non-profit, accredited online university offering more than sixty bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in the high-demand fields of business, IT, teacher education, and healthcare. WGU is recognized for its competency-based approach, which allows students to study at their own pace, making it possible for many to accelerate their studies and finish faster. Learn more at wgu.edu.

The Bipartisan Leadership Project:

The mission of the Bipartisan Leadership Project (BLP) is to initiate and guide organizations in providing leadership development that equips leaders with skills necessary to lead in the polarized environment. Leaders of the BLP have initiated political leadership programs at Michigan State University’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research and at George Mason University’s Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution. These programs bring together politically, ethnically, and geographically diverse people to learn together. The program uniquely focuses on the development of conflict resolution and leadership skills for this political environment. Participants build trust, tolerance, and the ability to listen to each other in finding workable solutions to the serious problems we face. With the involvement of scholars, leaders, practitioners, and the robust interaction of participants, these programs are producing amazing results. The BLP also helped develop a leadership program for high school students at John Lewis High School to increase the pipeline for the next generation of leaders.

Interested in Learning More?

WGA 40th Anniversary Website: https://westgov.org/40th-anniversary

·      WGA Governors: https://westgov.org/40th-anniversary

·      WGA Issues: https://westgov.org/key-issues


·      Rick Perry: A Political Life by Brandon Rottinghaus (https://a.co/d/2wxHpCW)

·      Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water by Marc Reisner (https://a.co/d/19owz2B)

·      Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S.C. Gwynne

Learning to Disagree Better by John Inazu

Are you discouraged by our divided, angry culture, where even listening to a different perspective sometimes feels impossible? If so, you’re not alone, and it doesn’t have to be this way. Learning to Disagree reveals the surprising path to learning how to disagree in ways that build new bridges with our neighbors, coworkers, and loved ones–and help us find better ways to live joyfully in a complex society.

In a tense cultural climate, is it possible to disagree productively and respectfully without compromising our convictions? Spanning a range of challenging issues–including critical race theory, sexual assault, campus protests, and clashes over religious freedom–highly regarded thought leader and law professor John Inazu helps us engage honestly and empathetically with people whose viewpoints we find strange, wrong, or even dangerous.

As a constitutional scholar, legal expert, and former litigator, John has spent his career learning how to disagree well with other people. In Learning to Disagree, John shares memorable stories and draws on the practices that legal training imparts–seeing the complexity in every issue and inhabiting the mindset of an opposing point of view–to help us handle daily encounters and lifelong relationships with those who see life very differently than we do.

This groundbreaking, poignant, and highly practical book equips us to:

Understand what holds us back from healthy disagreement

Learn specific, start-today strategies for dialoguing clearly and authentically

Move from stuck, broken disagreements to mature, healthy disagreements

Cultivate empathy as a core skill for our personal lives and our whole society

If you are feeling exhausted from the tattered state of dialogue in your social media feed, around the country, and in daily conversations, you’re not alone. Discover a more connected life while still maintaining the strength of your convictions through this unique, often-humorous, thought-provoking, and ultimately life-changing exploration of the best way to disagree.

How to Know a Person by David Brooks

As David Brooks observes, “There is one skill that lies at the heart of any healthy person, family, school, community organization, or society: the ability to see someone else deeply and make them feel seen—to accurately know another person, to let them feel valued, heard, and understood.”

And yet we humans don’t do this well. All around us are people who feel invisible, unseen, misunderstood. In How to Know a Person, Brooks sets out to help us do better, posing questions that are essential for all of us: If you want to know a person, what kind of attention should you cast on them? What kind of conversations should you have? What parts of a person’s story should you pay attention to?

Driven by his trademark sense of curiosity and his determination to grow as a person, Brooks draws from the fields of psychology and neuroscience and from the worlds of theater, philosophy, history, and education to present a welcoming, hopeful, integrated approach to human connection. How to Know a Person helps readers become more understanding and considerate toward others, and to find the joy that comes from being seen. Along the way it offers a possible remedy for a society that is riven by fragmentation, hostility, and misperception.

The act of seeing another person, Brooks argues, is profoundly creative: How can we look somebody in the eye and see something large in them, and in turn, see something larger in ourselves? How to Know a Person is for anyone searching for connection, and yearning to be understood.

How to Know a Person by David Brooks

When we are baffled by the insanity of the “other side”—in our politics, at work, or at home—it’s because we aren’t seeing how the conflict itself has taken over.

That’s what “high conflict” does. It’s the invisible hand of our time. And it’s different from the useful friction of healthy conflict. That’s good conflict, and it’s a necessary force that pushes us to be better people.

High conflict, by contrast, is what happens when discord distills into a good-versus-evil kind of feud, the kind with an us and a them. In this state, the normal rules of engagement no longer apply. The brain behaves differently. We feel increasingly certain of our own superiority and, at the same time, more and more mystified by the other side.

New York Times bestselling author and award-winning journalist Amanda Ripley investigates how good people get captured by high conflict—and how they break free.

Our journey begins in California, where a world-renowned conflict expert struggles to extract himself from a political feud. Then we meet a Chicago gang leader who dedicates his life to a vendetta—only to find himself working beside the man who killed his childhood idol. Next, we travel to Colombia, to find out whether thousands of people can be nudged out of high conflict at scale.

Finally, we return to America to see what happens when a group of liberal Manhattan Jews and conservative Michigan corrections officers choose to stay in each other’s homes in order to understand one another better.

All these people, in dramatically different situations, were drawn into high conflict by similar forces, including conflict entrepreneurs, humiliation, and false binaries. But ultimately, all of them found ways to transform high conflict into something good, something that made them better people. They rehumanized and recatego­rized their opponents, and they revived curiosity and wonder, even as they continued to fight for what they knew was right.

People do escape high conflict. Individuals—even entire communities—can short-circuit the feedback loops of outrage and blame, if they want to. This is a mind-opening new way to think about conflict that will transform how we move through the world.

Host Biography:

Judy Woodruff - Headshot

Judy Woodruff is a senior correspondent and the former anchor and managing editor of the PBS NewsHour. She has covered politics and other news for five decades at NBC, CNN and PBS.

At PBS from 1983 to 1993, she was the chief Washington correspondent for the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. From 1984 – 1990, she also anchored PBS’ award-winning documentary series, “Frontline with Judy Woodruff.” Moving to CNN in 1993, she served as anchor and senior correspondent for 12 years; among other duties, she anchored the weekday program “Inside Politics.” She returned to the NewsHour in 2007, and in 2013, she and the late Gwen Ifill were named the first two women to co-anchor a national news broadcast. After Ifill’s death, Woodruff was named sole anchor.

In 2011, Judy was the anchor and reporter for the PBS documentary “Nancy Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime.” And in 2007, she completed an extensive project on the views of young Americans, titled “Generation Next: Speak Up. Be Heard.” Two hour-long documentaries aired on PBS, along with a series of reports on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, NPR, in USA Today and on Yahoo News.

From 2006 – 2013, Judy anchored a monthly program for Bloomberg Television, “Conversations with Judy Woodruff.” In 2006, she was a visiting professor at Duke University’s Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy. In 2005, she was a visiting fellow at Harvard University’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.

At NBC News, Woodruff was White House correspondent from 1977 to 1982. For one year after that she served as NBC’s Today Show chief Washington correspondent. She wrote the book, This is Judy Woodruff at the White House, published in 1982 by Addison-Wesley. Her reporting career began in Atlanta, Georgia, where she covered state and local government.

Woodruff is a founding co-chair of the International Women’s Media Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting and encouraging women in journalism and communication industries worldwide. She serves on the boards of trustee of the Freedom Forum, The Duke Endowment and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and is a director of Public Radio International and the National Association to End Homelessness. She is a former member of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, a former director of the National Museum of American History and a former trustee of the Urban Institute.

Judy is a graduate of Duke University, where she is a trustee emerita.

She is the recent recipient of an Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as the Radcliffe Medal, the Poynter Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism, the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism from Arizona State University.

She is the recipient of more than 25 honorary degrees.

Judy lives in Washington, DC, with her husband, journalist Al Hunt, and they are the parents of three children: Jeffrey, Benjamin and Lauren.

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