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Keeping It Civil

Philosophy Podcasts

Keeping It Civil is hosted by Henry Thomson and co-produced by the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership and Arizona PBS. The podcast seeks answers to key questions about the future of American life with fast-paced interviews with scholars and intellectuals.


United States


Keeping It Civil is hosted by Henry Thomson and co-produced by the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership and Arizona PBS. The podcast seeks answers to key questions about the future of American life with fast-paced interviews with scholars and intellectuals.






S4E12: R. Shep Melnick | Higher Education in Crisis

Shep Melnick is the Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr. Professor of American Politics at Boston College and co-chair of the Harvard Program on Constitutional Government. Henry and Shep Melnick speak about the current crisis in America's higher education, Melnick's research on Title IX, the regulation of gender equality in higher education and Melnick's latest book.


S4E11: Jenna Storey | Modern Restlessness and Quest for Virtue

Jenna Storey is a senior fellow in the Social, Cultural and Constitutional Studies Department at the American Enterprise Institute. Henry and Jenna Storey speak about the crisis of modern liberal arts education, the restlessness of young college students and her plans for improving and reforming higher ed.


S4E10: Franciska Coleman | Social Regulation Of Free Speech In America

Franciska Coleman is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School. In this episode we speak about assumptions encoded in words people choose to use and why many nations around the world signed a "covenant" that addresses hate speech yet the United States never did. Coleman also discusses, among other things, the social regulation of speech as an example of cancel culture or accountability culture and what these terms imply when used in reference to speech regulation.


S4E9: Heather Mac Donald | Why Did Universities Abandon Their True Mission?

Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a New York Times bestselling author. In this episode Henry and Mac Donald discuss identity politics and why universities are not teaching students, among other things, how to think about ideas "in the abstract" in pursuit of evaluating neutral principles of free speech and government. They also talk about what Mac Donald thinks the role of university in society should be.


S4E8: Winston Marshall | Former Mumford and Sons Banjo Player’s Career & Political Stance

Winston Marshall has had a long and successful career as a musician, most notably as a founding member of the popular folk rock band Mumford and Sons. He later made headlines by leaving the band due to his controversial political views. As Marshall embarked on a solo career, we take a look at the events that led to his departure and explore the motivations behind his positions.


S4E7: Bion Bartning | Pro-Human Approach to Addressing Racism

Bion Bartning is an entrepreneur and investor. He is also the founder of FAIR, the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism. Bartning talks to Henry about what prompted him to start the Foundation and FAIR’s alternative diversity training and other mechanisms put in place as a response to racism and other ideologies.


S4E6: Batya Ungar-Sargon | Elitism in Journalism Poses Growing Danger to American Democracy

Join us as Henry speaks with Batya Ungar-Sargon about her new book Bad News: How Woke Media is Undermining Democracy. Ungar-Sargon talks about how the media is silencing the middle class of America and why the interests of the lower income population are not represented in D.C. We discuss hopefulness that comes from the "goodness of the American people" and how democracy is in good shape because of the people


S4E5: Jason Nichols | Hip-Hop & Political Activism

In this episode Dr. Nichols, a hip-hop artist, public intellectual and academic, speaks with Henry about hip-hop as a form of public discussion and political activism, about the corrosive effect of social media on civil discourse and the legacy and influence of Bea Gaddy on Nichols' political views.


S4E4: Jane Kamensky | Place of the American Revolution and American History in Public Discourse

Jane Kamensky talks about American identity in colonial time and at the time of the Revolution and whether we're equipping ourselves and our students with an understanding of the revolutionary era. Henry also discusses with Kamensky the binary of competing narratives of U.S. history and why we need to challenge it


S4E3: Eric Kaufmann | Demographic Transitions, White Majority & Political Contention in Coming Decades

Henry speaks to Eric Kaufmann about political demography, nationalism and a mixed-race population as a future majority in America. Kaufmann discusses the dangers of suppressing opposition to immigration and why repressive tolerance is a bad idea.


S4E2: Megan McArdle | Civil Discourse Online and Offline, Changing Nature of Threats to Free Speech and Self-Censorship

This episode covers an attack on Salman Rushdie as a “visceral and physical expression” of attempts to suppress free speech. Threats to free speech come not only from the right but the left also, McArdle argues; she calls it a distressing pullback from the values that are necessary to a liberal society.


S4E1: Kmele Foster | Entrepreneurship, Innovation & Freedom of Speech in Higher Education

Kmele Foster is a media entrepreneur and a co-founder of Freethink. Henry spoke to him about the trajectory of human innovation and what the mainstream media gets wrong about progress. They also discussed freedom of speech in higher education and Kmele Foster's critique of Black Lives Matter movement.


S3E12: John Tomasi | Heterodox Academy

This week, Josh speaks with John Tomasi of the Heterodox Academy. They discuss John’s background studying philosophy at the University of Arizona, his conception of the university as an environment for free-thinking and the teaching of leadership, the goals of the Heterodox Academy, the philosophy articulated in his book, “Free Market Fairness,” and his forthcoming book on libertarianism.


S3:E11: Michael Lind | Managerial Elite

In this conversation with the writer and public policy analyst Michael Lind, Josh and Henry discuss his book, “The New Class War: Saving Democracy From the Managerial Elite,” how elites consolidated power in the late twentieth-century, the weakness of modern political parties, the need for “countervailing power,” his argument against sending more students to colleges and universities, and prevailing economic and legal obstacles to building national consensus.


S3:E10: Heather Wilson | Leadership and Public Service with University President and Former Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson

Heather Wilson, the current President of the University of Texas-El Paso, and former Secretary of the Air Force, has had a distinguished life in public service. In this conversation, Josh and Henry discuss her childhood desire to be a pilot, military service, experience in Congress, and the lessons she’s learned from working in higher education.


S3:E9: Glenn Loury | Economics, Race, and Racial Discrimination

In this conversation with Brown University economist Glenn Loury, Josh and Henry discuss his intellectual journey, the strengths of neoclassical economics, his opposition to affirmative action in higher education, and how he thinks about persistent racial disparities.


S3:E8: Steven Smith | Reclaiming Patriotism in an Age of Extremes

Steven Smith is a political philosopher at Yale. His most recent book, “Reclaiming Patriotism in an Age of Extremes,” makes the case that patriotism should be restored as a guiding civic value. In discussing his book, Josh and Henry cover his notion of “enlightened patriotism,” the necessity of teaching patriotism in schools, and the challenge of balancing patriotism and cosmopolitanism. They also discuss the crucial distinction Smith draws between patriotism and nationalism.


S3:E7: Khalil Muhammad | Understanding the Past and Present of Race and Crime in America

The relationship between race and crime is a central part of the American story. In this week’s episode, Josh and Henry talk with Khalil Muhammad, the Ford Foundation Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School. They discuss the contemporary uses of history in public discourse, his award-winning book, “The Condemnation of Blackness,” the uses and misuses of crime statistics, and the need for prosocial interventions to combat community harms.


S3:E6: Andrew Sullivan | A Conversation With the Writer and Public Intellectual Andrew Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan has been a fixture in American intellectual life for over thirty years. Josh and Henry covered several topics with him, including the role of the essayist, his journey from traditional print journalism to Substack, his thoughts on the foundations of a liberal society, the potential consequences of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, his fear of intellectual orthodoxy in society, and more.


S3:E5: Lara Bazelon | Law Professor, Writer, and Advocate on the Criminal Justice System and Her New Book on Motherhood

Josh and Henry have a wide-ranging conversation with Lara Bazelon, the Director of the Criminal & Juvenile Justice and Racial Justice Clinics at the University of San Francisco School of Law. We discuss her thoughts on systemic racism, her work representing indigent clients, “progressive prosecutors,” and her new book on motherhood, “Ambitious Like a Mother: Why Prioritizing Your Career is Good for Your Kids.”