Photo Illustration by C.J. Robinson
In this week’s class, Professor Ellad Tadmor discussed with SciCourt notes from his conversation with Jim Hartung, a systems engineer and political reform advocate. Hartung provided ideas on how to organize national service programs and approaches to decreasing polarization in the United States. The science team will consider Hartung’s insights to craft effective pro and con proposals that fight polarization.
Bill McGinnis, the legal team advisor and judge for the case, thinks that misinformation is one of the leading causes of polarization in the U.S. To combat this issue, McGinnis said he believes we must improve how Americans exchange and interpret information. With the absence of misinformation, he speculated biases would turn to a minimum and citizens would better understand the arguments from both sides.
Science team members said they are contacting their experts and preparing questions for upcoming interviews. The legal team presented their overview research of service programs in the U.S. pre and post-WWII, including Depression-era New Deal programs like the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration, and more modern programs like the Peace Corps and Americorps. The legal team also looked at service programs abroad both mandatory and voluntary, including the European Solidarity Corps and programs in France, Malaysia, and Nigeria, among others. Their research displayed an extensive number of programs both inside and outside the United States.
The con argument continues to emerge as a result of this research, potentially proposing to fight polarization using more robust voluntary service programs and promoting civic education. Arunn Suntharalingam, a member of the legal team, researched the European Solidarity Corps, a well-developed program that funds many non-governmental organizations across the European Union. The NGOs are nonprofit organizations independently operated in communities with the goal to address societal and political issues, Suntharalingam said.
Participation in the funded NGOs is voluntary, which formulates a great framework to analyze for the con argument, Suntharalingam said. He noted that the participants involved in the NGOs were actively engaged with societal and political issues, building valuable collaboration and communication skills along the way.
The European Solidarity Corps only funded voluntary organizations due to the high costs of funding a large number of people and groups, Suntharalingam said. With a large number of participants, he theorized that diversity would increase throughout the program, suggesting a decline in polarization with the engagement of various cultures.
The science team will continue to gather research to help the legal team form strong pro and con arguments for fighting polarization to prepare for the trial on April 24th. If you’re interested in participating on the jury for Science Court, take the survey here. We are asking for your feedback on this case with this form here. Catch up on the recent podcast episode on Apple Podcasts and Spotify before the second episode coming next week. To stay updated, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @scicourt.