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Reducing Political Polarization

Jacob Hess and Phil Neisser Phil Neisser and Jacob Hess, political opposites and co-authors of You're Not as Crazy as I Thought (But You're Still Wrong): Conversations between a Die-Hard Liberal and a Devoted Conservative will host two Iowa caucus-related events Nov. 19 and 20.

Their workshop, "How to Reduce Political Polarization without Compromise," will teach strategies for engaging in more civil and productive political conversations. The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place from 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.

Neisser and Hess will also give a free public lecture, titled "Using Dialogue as Civic Engagement, On and Off Campus," at 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, in Rosenfield Center, Room 101. The workshop and lecture cosponsors are the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, the Peace and Conflict Studies Program, President Raynard S. Kington, and the Ombuds Office.

For two years, Neisser, a leftist; and Hess, a conservative; have been engaging in difficult and in-depth conversations about controversial political issues, including sexuality, race, big government, and big business. Working to reduce polarization by both pressing each other and listening to each other, the two compiled highlights of their conversations into their book, You're Not as Crazy as I Thought. The book was featured on the popular public radio show This American Life.

Neisser is a professor of political theory at the State University of New York at Potsdam, where he also serves as the associate dean of Arts and Sciences. A gifted teacher, he received the SUNY Potsdam Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2000. Neisser is also the author of United We Fall: Ending America’s Love Affair with the Political Center, as well as several acclaimed essays in various political science books.

Hess, a psychologist, is research director at Utah Youth Village, a nonprofit for abused children in the Rocky Mountain region. In 2009, he completed his Ph.D. dissertation research on long-term depression treatments. He has written 13 peer-reviewed articles and two books. A teacher of mindfulness-based stress reduction, Hess co-founded All of Life, a nonprofit that educates people about scientific discoveries in brain science and how these findings can be used to help overcome mental and emotional challenges.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. You can make accommodation requests to Conference Operations and Events.

Ombuds

The Grinnell College Ombuds Office was established to provide an independent, neutral point of view in an informal and confidential environment.  The Ombuds will listen and inform, research issues to help generate options, and coach individuals on how to deal with difficult and sensitive situations. As an alternate and informal channel of communication, the Ombuds Office is available to the entire college community – staff, students, faculty and administrators – to address concerns.

Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center

The Rosenfield Center is the central gathering place at Grinnell. In addition to space for a range of campus offices, it contains the central dining room and kitchens of the College, the Spencer Grill, the Crady Mail Room, recreational areas and lounges, a multipurpose room, smaller meeting rooms, classrooms, and a gallery. The Rosenfield Center is named after longtime Grinnell College trustee and benefactor Joe Rosenfield ’25.

Parking near the building includes some accessible parking to the east, limited spaces in a small lot across 8th Avenue, and a large lot off 10th Avenue to the north.