The Open Discussion Project promotes civil conversation at a time when Americans are deeply divided.

We hold different values and beliefs, and have different faiths, needs, and priorities.

And yet we must continue to engage with one another on intentionally political subjects.

Our democracy depends on it.

Open Discussion Project creates community-based spaces for discussion among people of opposing views–discussions that are intentionally political and not intended to convert. 

Begin with books.

Books are essential to creating the marketplace of ideas on which our democracy depends. The Open Discussion Project, in collaboration with the American Booksellers Association, creates reading groups that offer an informal setting for facilitated conversation with others who hold different views. 

Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC, launched the first reading group, Bridging the Divide, in 2017. The group meets monthly, alternately discussing liberal and conservative titles. Its meetings have created moments of genuine empathy between people who disagree profoundly.

Later this year, pilot reading groups will launch in 6 new locations across the country, in communities divided by political disagreement, with moderators trained in facilitating discussion rather than debate, supported by resources created with the National Institute for Civil Discourse.


For Hosts (Booksellers)

For Facilitators

For Participants


Open Discussion Project builds on a foundation of interdisciplinary knowledge about social interaction developed in the 1990s. Following decades of cultural conflict, social scientists, educators and business leaders began to explore the potential of dialogue.

NCAC has a diverse nationwide coalition, more than 40 years of program expertise, experience of working at both local and national levels, and collaborations with academic researchers. The impact of the reading groups will be magnified by sharing their progress with the millions of members of our coalition partners and local, regional and national media.

Learn More If you’re interested in collaboration or would like to get in touch, please email [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you!


National Institute for Civil Discourse