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Bowdoin College staff win 'democracy challenge'

Three Bowdoin College staff members won Stanford University's Strengthening Democracy Challenge this summer.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — As the race to the midterms heats up, each of the major parties is doing all they can to separate themselves from the other.

"We're at a fever pitch in the country in terms of how polarized we are," Michael Franz, professor of government at Bowdoin College, said. 

Franz, along with developer David Francis and economist Dan Stone, are hoping to change the political polarization by using an app called Media Trades.

Once you make an account on the website, you're able to share articles that reflect your political views, but you can only do it if you've read and taken notes on an article you don't agree with.

"The idea being that if they could share them with each other that it would reduce polarity, political polarity," Francis said.

"Our hope is that it won't uniformly transform people's political opinions, but that people come to realize that [if] a partisan on the other side of the isle holds a strong view on the issue, they do so because they believe passionately about it. And it's important for us to expose people to the reasons why they feel passionate about those things," Franz said.

The trio 'won' Stanford University's Strengthening Democracy Challenge because their project showed the least polarization of the 252 submissions.

"It really reminds us that people care about trying to reduce levels of polarization, and we should probably remember and see that as a positive," Franz said.

So far, Media Trades has only been used in classrooms from Maine to the Carolinas. But anyone can sign up mediatrades.org.

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