Our Mission

The mission of the Bonnie and Bill Stubblefield Institute for Civil Political Communications is to study and promote how intelligent, authentic, and civil political discourse can play an essential role in our nation’s ability to better meet challenges and solve problems. We furthermore seek to demonstrate that when opposing viewpoints are respected and legitimized in ways that avoid negative labeling and alienation, it can also lead to greater civic awareness and engagement.


Our Purpose and Goals

“How we as citizens persuade, advocate and converse with one another across competing opinions is of utmost importance to the future health of our democracy. As citizens and voters, we need to address our divisions and learn how to talk to each other again in a civil manner.”

Mary J.C. Hendrix, PhD, President, Shepherd University

The Stubblefield Institute for Civil Political Communications seeks to serve the Shepherd University community and the public at large by being a trusted resource and an important voice in the quest for improved political civility by focusing on the root of the topic instead of skimming the surface. We intend to achieve this by hosting multiple two-sided public forums, creating an undergraduate degree in Political Communications, supporting vital student and faculty research in civil political communications, and putting forth an aggressive media and social media program advancing political civility as a way of problem solving.

“The America I love is not about labeling one another. I know conservatives who are the most giving, caring people I have ever met. I also know social progressives who wave the flag of patriotism with intense fervor. But listening to today’s demonizing rhetoric, I wouldn’t know that either of those examples could possibly be true.”

David Welch, Institute Director


Our Vision and Values

We envision the Stubblefield Institute as a major actor in redefining the current harshness of political communications and as a magnet for thought leaders on all sides of the political spectrum. We further envision an accomplished faculty engaged in research that will create new knowledge about the impact of the tone of communications on public understanding and response to democratic processes.  And for students, we envision them moving from their engagement at Shepherd University into strategic communications positions within the public arena so that the lessons they have absorbed might translate to new, inclusive and respectful approaches to governance.

The Institute’s leadership is committed to promoting and maintaining a strong set of values among its faculty and students, its guests, its financial and programmatic partners, and all who engage in the Institute’s work. These values include:

  • Respect for all viewpoints and perspectives
  • Argumentation based on reason and logic
  • Honesty in all presentations and discussions
  • Academic integrity in research and instruction
  • Creativity in pursuing the Institute’s mission
  • Transparency in all transaction