Pitt’s Center for Governance and Market Receives $2.4 Million John Templeton Foundation Grant to Study How Societies Overcome Deep Differences

Newswise – A team led by the Center for Governance and Markets (CGM) at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs will examine how societies manage and overcome polarization and social divides with a grant from $2.4 million from the John Templeton Foundation. The project “Governing Deep Difference: Modus Vivendi, Polycentrism, and Institutional Diversity” is co-directed by Jennifer Brick Murtazashviliassociate professor of public and international affairs, and Paul Dragos AligicaKPMG Professor of Governance at the University of Bucharest and Senior Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

The three-year research project addresses one of the most important governance issues facing the world today: how the growing social diversity, pluralism of values, worldviews and ways of life created by Contemporary social and technological changes are redefining societies and communities, often fostering conflict.

“This work is so important in our context of ever-increasing interconnectedness of systems and people around the world, coupled with deepening divisions between so many facets of our society,” said Carissa SlotterbackDean of the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

Rather than simply identifying sources of polarization, the project will explore the tools communities are developing to overcome profound differences in conditions of increasing heterogeneity. To do this, it will develop and test a range of intellectual traditions by investigating and articulating tolerance-based solutions to these challenges.

The project brings together political philosophers working on questions of pluralism with researchers and practitioners analyzing these questions in real time. Researchers will combine quantitative survey data and qualitative field research in Romania, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, the United States (with a focus on Rust Belt communities around Pittsburgh), as well as in other countries, to understand the possibility and the limits of the ways in which individuals and communities manage tensions and coexist. CGM will work with a range of global research partners, including those from Kyiv School of Economics (Ukraine), University of Bucharest (Romania) and Ergo Analytics (Uzbekistan).

“We are delighted to support this project, which will explore some of the most fundamental challenges of free societies,” said Amy Proulx, Director of Individual Liberty and Free Markets at the John Templeton Foundation. “Understanding how diverse communities are able to successfully manage their profound differences is a crucial step in promoting human flourishing. The project also has important implications for our work related to pluralism, human rights, political freedoms such as religious freedom and freedom of expression, and the institutions that protect these freedoms.

The project will foster a global network of scholars and practitioners focused on these issues. To do so, it will bring together social scientists from a variety of backgrounds, including philosophy, political science, economics, anthropology and sociology, who will work alongside community leaders, practitioners and policy makers.

Helen D. Jessen