July 19, 2020 – Srećko Mavrek, a Croatian international educational expert based in New York, attended the 2020 Sphere Summit: Teaching Civic Culture Together, July 13-15, hosted by the CATO Institute, Washington DC (https://www.cato.org/).
Given the concerns related to COVID-19, the 2020 Sphere Summit was held as an online public policy and professional development seminar exclusive to educators and administrators.
“The most important goal of the Sphere Summit was to restore a spirit of civil, constructive, and respectful discourse and engagement. To that end, the Summit emphasized on the common values and objectives we hold as citizens. It is necessary to return facts, objective analysis, and independent research to primacy as the vehicles for discussion and academic, public and political debate. Discussing shared values is essential to a restoration of civic culture,” said Mavrek.
“The objectives of the Sphere Summit included civic culture, foundations, applications, understanding each other, and policy discussions. Participants explored and addressed the current state of public discourse, partisanship, and tribalism in America. They also shared tools and approaches for the classroom on current public policy issues from diverse viewpoints. Other topics included the U.S. Constitution, the rule of law, and freedom of expression. While some speakers were struggling with their own political biases during examination of the various political philosophies and understanding the viewpoints of audiences with diverse perspectives, it was really valuable to analyze key policy issues from diverse perspectives with an emphasis on shared values and common objectives,” concluded Mavrek.
The Sphere Summit featured presentations by leading policymakers, scholars, and academics, who discussed key public policy issues facing the US and Western countries today. The Summit also featured professional development workshops conducted by leaders in civic education. Featured speakers included: Anne Applebaum, Staff writer for The Atlantic and a Pulitzer‐prize winning historian, Gary Colletti, Senior Manager, Teacher and Student Programs, Bill of Rights Institute, Chelsea Follett, Policy Analyst and Managing Editor of HumanProgress.org, Cato Institute, Caroline Fredrickson, Senior Fellow, Brennan Center for Justice, Peter Goettler, President and CEO, Cato Institute, Jonathan Haidt, Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership, Stern School of Business, New York University; and Cofounder, Heterodox Academy, Michael A. Lewis, Professor, Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, CUNY, and others. Two House Representatives participated in the Keynote Address on July 14 – Rep. Kelly Armstrong (Republican-ND) and Rep. Ro Khanna (Democrat-CA).