U of I System IGPA
Publish Date

The University of Illinois System’s Institute of Government & Public Affairs (IGPA) and the University of Illinois Springfield will host a Summit on Democracy & Polarization, a two-day event dedicated to exploring the challenges and opportunities of growing partisan separation in the United States.

The event will take place on Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 9-10, at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and President Abraham Lincoln Springfield DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Springfield, Ill. Registration is required but there is no charge.

Many prominent politicians, pundits, and scholars warn of the dangers of diminishing civility, reason, and willingness to compromise, the sources of healthy governance. However numerous historical examples point to dysfunctional periods in the past.

The partisan press of the 18th and 19th centuries could be particularly vitriolic. Members of Congress literally brawled with one another in the run-up to the Civil War. Those who miss bipartisan civility should read the American Political Science Association's 1950 report denouncing bipartisanship and yearning for more "responsible" (i.e., unified and distinguishable, which is to say polarized) parties.

Join us at the summit as scholars, elected officials, journalists, students, and engaged citizens grapple with which traits of contemporary politics and political discourse are truly worrying and unprecedented, and which might be more normal than most would think, and quite familiar to Madison, Lincoln, and either President Roosevelt.

On Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. former U.S. Rep. Daniel Lipinski, who represented Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District from 2005-2021, will deliver a keynote address to kick off the summit. His lecture will take place at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, 212 N. Sixth St. in Springfield.

On Oct. 10, panels and lectures will run from 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. at the President Abraham Lincoln Springfield DoubleTree Hotel. More information on these sessions can be found on IGPA’s website and the link to register for the event. The summit has limited capacity, so early registration is strongly recommended.

Attendance at the Lipinski lecture on Monday requires a separate registration.