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APS Discussion Group: Is America As Divided As It Seems?

5:30 PM 7:30 PM
The Pilgrim Chapel, 3801 Gillham Road Kansas City, MO 64111

APS Discussion Group: Is America As Divided As It Seems?

5:30 PM 7:30 PM
The Pilgrim Chapel, 3801 Gillham Road Kansas City, MO 64111
APS is proud to offer programs that are free and open to all. If you’d like to help offset the cost of this program, we’d be so grateful for your support!

American Public Square seeks to bring community members together through our Discussion Group Series to increase understanding and engage each other in honest and respectful dialogue. 

In this APS Discussion Group event, and in celebration of National Week of Conversation 2023, Oxford University graduate student and APS Member, Ryan Bernsten led the discussion group in addressing the ongoing question, “Is America as divided as it seems?”

In what started as a graduate thesis project, Bernsten, took a 23,000-mile journey through all 50 states to answer that question, ultimately documenting his experience in “50 States of Mind: A Journey to Rediscover American Democracy.” Bernsten’s book is a work of narrative travel non-fiction in the style of Alexis de Tocqueville that takes readers on a long and winding journey through all 50 states to explore the complexities of today’s America. Leading with the desire to listen and overcome our preconceived notions, “50 States of Mind” asks how we can infuse humanity and nuance back into political conversations to keep our democracy strong.

The companion podcast “50 States of Mind,” featured in Condé Nast Traveler, showcases live interviews from the journey and is available on all podcast platforms.

Use promo code ListenFirst10 on Lantern for 10% off. *Also available on Audible.

*Released on June 20th.

Event Photos

Discussion Group Facilitators

Ryan Bernsten is a graduate of the University of Oxford’s Creative Writing Master’s program and has written for The Oxford Political Review, USA Today, The Infatuation, The Oxymoron, and The Trevor Project where he currently serves as senior managing editor. He moved to Kansas City after falling in love with the town on his journey to all 50 states. You may have seen him onstage at the Unicorn Theatre in “The Inheritance” or chatting with Helen Mirren as a Slytherin contestant on “Harry Potter: Hogwarts Tournament of Houses” on HBO Max.

Claire Bishop is the executive director of American Public Square at Jewell. Claire is an experienced leader and organizational transformation expert, who believes in the power of community and advancing the missions of organizations. A proud Kansas City native, Claire has served as a marketing executive and board member in for-profit and nonprofit organizations.  A seasoned communication professional, Claire brings clarity, organization and passion to the APS community.

Discussion Group Resources

Season Sponsors

In Kind Sponsor

Hall Family Foundation

Health Forward Foundation

Nelson Atkins Museum


Sue Seidler Nerman and Lewis Nerman

Marny and John Sherman

William Jewell College

Boulevard Brewing Company