Radical Civility

SMART Politics

The Situation

“A man with conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.” Stanford University psychologist Leon Festinger wrote these words over 60 years ago, yet they have newfound relevance today. In our current political climate, coming to an understanding over pertinent political issues can feel impossible. It can be difficult not to fall into patterns of argument and criticism when we try to talk to people with different views than our own - but instead of welcoming potential supporters into the fold, we end up pushing them away. People can change their minds and they are most likely to do so within the context of strong, supportive relationships. The secret to great one-on-one political advocacy is making people feel safe enough to reflect on their choices. Radical Civility, an approach developed and championed by SMART Politics, is the key to sharing our vision for the future in a way others can hear.

Who We Are

The 7,500+ members of SMART Politics are progressive political activists and concerned citizens from across the nation who understand that treating all people with respect and tolerance improves the quality of democratic discourse and makes us more powerful advocates for the causes we care about. SMART Politics teaches progressives how to use Radical Civility, a five-step process for engaging in difficult dialogues, to have more productive and persuasive conversations with people outside our political group. Radical Civility is a form of political activism that facilitates opinion change by encouraging people to engage in safe conversations where open-mindedness, rationality, and self-reflection can flourish.

The Project

SMART Politics is seeking to create an online/mobile platform for training volunteers and connecting them with swing voters on social media. At minimum they would like to create a mobile application to do this, but are also trying to build a web browser extension to empower activists to do more.

Level 1: Baseline

Create a mobile iOS/Android application that presents training guides and material from SMART politics to help train volunteers and enable them to respond to swing voters according to the principles of Radical Civility. Should be relatively simple with maybe 5 sections of pre-populated material.

Level 2: Add Social Media/Web Browser Extension

Create a web browser extension to be used on Social Media platforms that takes in article information/user comments as input and nudges the user to respond in a way that is not inflammatory and can foster understanding/constructive conversation.

Level 3: Add Interface for Administrators to Easily Edit/Add Information

Create an interface that allows SMART politics to update their training materials as necessary without having to code.

Recommended Skills (not all required):
  • Web Development Experience
  • iOS/Android Experience
  • Natural Language Processing