Center for Social Cohesion to open between L.A. and AZ

Zocalo Public Square is joining with Arizona State University and the New America Foundation to launch the non-partisan Center for Social Cohesion, "dedicated to studying the forces that shape our sense of social unity." It will be run by Zocalo founder Gregory Rodriguez, who says that the center will incubate ideas by "investing in journalists and scholars who will find new ways of understanding, for example, the nature of community, national identity and the social contract." From the mission statement:

The Center for Social Cohesion, a joint project of Arizona State University, the New America Foundation, and Zócalo Public Square, is dedicated to studying the forces that shape our sense of social unity. Wholly non-partisan, pluralistic and multidisciplinary in outlook, the Center for Social Cohesion seeks to promote understanding of how diverse societies cohere.

From the invitation for the launch event Feb. 22 in Phoenix:

The United States has become more diverse in every way—ethnically, religiously, and politically—the response of many Americans has been to cordon themselves off from unfamiliar modes of life and thought, clustering among the like-minded. Political polarization has also increased.

Is this cultural fragmentation inevitable? Or is something to blame for it—immigration, the Internet, FOX News? Should we do something about it? Can the United States—despite the challenges—remain united?

Among the center's first fellows are KCRW general manager Jennifer Ferro, USC professor of policy, planning, and development Dowell Meyers, author-journalist Joe Mathews and former L.A. Times editorial page editor Andres Martinez. Rodriguez will have an office in Phoenix, where Zocalo will begain adding events, but he will continue to live in Los Angeles and to run Zocalo here. The new center will also have a presence in Washington through the New America Foundation.

Noted: LA Observed is a media sponsor of Zocalo.

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