ABOUT


W elcome to The Depolarization Project. We exist to help people listen, learn and lead. We do this through researching what works (and what doesn’t), providing training courses to businesses, students and community groups and encouraging leaders to open up to changing their own mind.


HOW WE CAME ABOUT

The Depolarization Project sprang from a course at Stanford University that was implemented in the aftermath of the 2016 US presidential election. It drew attention from around the world after a feature in the Financial Times.

WHY DO WE NEED TO DEPOLARIZE

We are spending more time with more people who think like us. It makes it harder when we encounter difference, establishes barriers where previously there were none and fragments society. We believe that for society to function effectively, we need to embrace political difference - not walk away from it.

CHANGED MY MIND AND POLES APART


Changed my mind is The Depolarization Project’s podcast. We’re proud to work with Open Democracy, a global media platform, to share it with you. Each week we ask guests to tell us a substantive issue they have changed their mind on. We’ll ask them why they changed their mind, and what they have learned from it. Leaders are frequently told they shouldn’t change their mind, but in our polarizing times, is that still the case? Your hosting team for this podcast is Laura Osborne, Alex Chesterfield and Ali Goldsworthy. Find the latest episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, RadioPublic, Stitcher, TuneIn and a whole host of other platforms. Alternatively you can subscribe directly to the rss feed.

In Spring 2020 it was announced the Penguin Random House has had signed the team behind Changed My Mind to write a major new text on polarization. Poles Apart will be published in 2021 Poles Apart will examine why we are polarized, the advantages and disadvantages of polarization and what can be done to tackle it when it reaches pernicious levels.

COURSES AND TRAINING


We run bespoke training courses for leaders in the community, colleges, NGOs and the private sector to help them to better listen, learn and understand the impact of their work. Central to our approach is that seeking out views that are different to your own is critical to depolarizing society. But having those conversations, reflecting on what is said and then changing behavior is deeply challenging. Our courses, developed at Stanford University, help participants overcome those challenges.

RESEARCH


OUR RESEARCH

We're committed to trying to discover what is, and is not effective at tackling polarization. That means we occasionally contribute additional research on the topic. We are currently looking at two areas. The first, which will be supported by David Broockman at Stanford University will consider the impact of single issue campaigns on polarization. Building on a piece published in Quilette in fall 2018, the BBC carried a 20 minute long thought piece on the topic in 2020. The second is again focussed on activist groups, examining what they can do to combat the spread of fake news and how our political viewpoint changes our perception of validity. This research is supported by the King Center at Stanford.

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OTHERS WORK

There is a growing level of interest in polarization, what causes it and how to tackle it. We regularly summarise the latest research that has been undertaken by others as part of our newsletter. An ongoing catalogue of the work we have found and featured is available as a back catalogue. Please note whilst we focus on our book, Poles Apart, we have ceased updating this database but will return to populating it when it is published. To keep up with the latest work from others that we think will stimulate your thinking, sing up for our newsletter or follow us on twitter.

FEATURED IN

THE TEAM

Alison Goldsworthy

Founder and CEO


Ali has spent more than 20 years active in politics and campaigning. A former Deputy Chair of the Liberal Democrat party in the UK she led a team that built a supporter base of millions of consumers, and ran her own public affairs agency. Ali is Vice Chair of the grant giving Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust. After attending High School in the UK and Southern Indiana, Ali gained her undergraduate degree from the University of Bath and Charles University in Prague. In 2017 she was a Sloan Fellow at Stanford receiving the $20,000 Francis and Arjay Miller Prize for Social Innovation alongside her Masters. A frequent media pundit, Ali has written for the Telegraph, Independent, New Statesman and Financial Times. She has won numerous awards for her work including NGO Campaign of the Year, Integrated Campaign of the Year and been named one of PR Week’s 29 under 29.

Laura Osborne

Associate and Cohost Changed My Mind


Laura Osborne is a Corporate Affairs specialist, helping businesses to communicate what they stand for, drive change and shape their reputation: she is a champion of business as a force for good. She is currently Director of Strategic Communications and Campaigns at London's leading business group, London First, and was consumer-group Which?’s first Head of Corporate Affairs. Laura's background is in public affairs, government communications and campaigning; she is a Council member of the PRCA and a member of Women in PR.

Alex Chesterfield

Associate and Cohost Changed My Mind


Alex is a Behavioural Scientist. She has always been fascinated by what makes people tick – how do people form particular beliefs? Why is it so hard to change (and admit to changing) our minds? Alex works in public policy, using behavioural science to help individuals and organisations make better decisions. Prior to that, Alex established and led the world's first behavioural insight team at a Consumer Association (Which?). Outside work, she is an elected Councillor in Guildford for the Conservative Party, winning her seat with the largest swing of the area. Alex has a Masters with distinction in Cognitive & Decision Science from UCL.

Lara Spirit

Consultant


Lara recently graduated from the University of Cambridge, where she studied Human, Social, and Political Sciences. In 2018, she took a two year break from her degree to lead a national youth campaign seeking a public vote on the final Brexit deal. She has written for The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Times and elsewhere, appeared regularly on BBC News and Sky News and featured as one of British Vogue's 2019 Women Shaping the Brexit Debate. In the last UK General Election she led a voter registration and turnout campaign which registered hundreds of thousands of young voters, before returning to complete her studies.

Advisers

Saumitra Jha


An Associate Professor at Stanford University Saumitra (Saum) Jha's work focusses on understanding the effectiveness of organizations and innovations that societies have developed to address the problems of violence and polarization. He is a professor by courtesy at the Stanford Departments of Economics and Political Science. Saum grew up in England, Scotland and the Indian Himalaya, he gained his undergraduate degree at Williams College, Masters at Cambridge University and was an Academy Scholar at Harvard before coming to Stanford. Saum is the faculty lead in Stanford's Conflict and Polarization Initiative.

Katherine Vasconez


Katherine is a corporate lawyer based in LA. A lifelong republican and outspoken supporter of President Trump, her family hail from Ecuador. In her spare time Katherine is a stand up comedian. She's been featured in The Independent, LA Times, Financial Times and Huffington Post.

Helen Mayer


Helen is a former Director of the successful campaign to persuade the UK to leave the EU (Vote Leave). A member of the Conservative Party and former local Councillor, she provides provides strategic political counsel and advice to politicians and companies. Helen began her career in fashion design and gemmology, gaining a degree from Southampton University. She has lived in Italy and Northern Ireland but is now based in London where she lives with her family, including a husband who was an active Remain campaigner.

Bernadette Clavier


Committed to entrepreneurial innovation and sustainable practices, Bernadette put 10 years of marketing leadership experience creating category winners in the private sector to the service of higher education programs that seek to advance solutions to the world’s global problems. As the Director of the Center for Social Innovation at the Stanford Graduate School of Business she has explored multiple avenues to social progress including nonprofit leadership, philanthropy, impact investing, and responsible business. She has coached numerous students to find their personal path to impact and social entrepreneurs to launch successful ventures..

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