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Bridging the Political Divide

We held a fascinating conversation on March 23rd, 2021 between four very different political science professors. Their backgrounds focus on Religion and Politics, Racial and Ethnic Politics and Historical and Constitutional Law.

We discussed all of the different aspects of what polarizes us as a nation. If you missed it, this video is available to watch on our YouTube channel. From looking at the dynamics of our neighborhoods, the moral and legal questions that lead us and the makeup of our faith and religion in the country, you are able to get a great view of what politically divides us and how we can work through this.

We'd like to thank our panel, Dr. Laura Olson, Dr. William Lasser, Dr. Todd Shaw, and Dr. Scott Segrest our MC , for their wisdom and knowledge.


olsonLaura R. Olson is Thurmond Professor of Political Science and Director of the Ph.D. program in Policy Studies at Clemson University. She has been a U.S. Fulbright Scholar to Italy, president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, and editor-in-chief of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. Her research focuses on contemporary religion and politics with emphases on public opinion and civic engagement. Her work has appeared in scholarly journals including Political Research Quarterly and Social Science Quarterly. She has also published nine books, most recently Religion and Politics in America: Faith, Culture, and Strategic Choices (Routledge, 2018).






william lasserWilliam Lasser, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Clemson University, has directed the Clemson University Honors College since 2009. A graduate of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Lasser is the author of numerous books and articles on law and American politics, including The Limits of Judicial Power: The Supreme Court in American Politics (University of North Carolina Press) and Benjamin V. Cohen: Architect of the New Deal (Yale University Press). He has taught courses in constitutional law, American government, and political theory at Clemson and in 1993 was the recipient of Clemson’s Master Teacher Award.






shaw todd cTodd Shaw has been on faculty since 2003 and has appointments both in UofSC's Department of Political Science and the African American Studies Program. He was appointed the College of Arts & Science Distinguished Associate Professor of Political Science and African American Studies by Dean Mary Ann Fitzpatrick in August of 2012. He served as the Interim Chair and then Chair of the Department of Political Science from 2017 to 2019. Until July 2021, he is serving as the Interim Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Social Sciences in the College of Arts & Sciences. He researches and teaches broadly in the areas of African American politics, urban politics and public policy, as well as citizen activism and social movements.






scott segrest photoThe MC is Major Scott Segrest from the Citadel: Dr. Segrest is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Citadel. He is the author of America and the Political Philosophy of Common Sense, a philosophical analysis of the role of common sense in politics as understood by two influential schools of American philosophy, Scottish Common Sense and Pragmatism. He has also published articles and book chapters on political radicalism and jihadist ideology.

Dr. Segrest teaches American politics, political theory, political ideologies, and religion and politics.






Diversity and Dialogue Dinner

The Atlantic Institute is pleased to announce the new Diversity and Dialogue Dinner event! This represents a partial reformatting of our annual Atlantic Peace and Dialogue Awards Dinner toward spotlighting community endeavors more comprehensively. We have been recognizing outstanding community organizations for over 10 years, and this year is no different. We have narrowed down to what we feel exemplify the key tenets of the Atlantic Institute's mission: Community Efforts and Peace through Dialogue.

Publicly recognizing these organizations encourages them to continue in their efforts to lead others in mutual understanding and educates those in attendance on their community organizations. It is an honor to recognize these organizations each year.

These two organizations have been selected for their continuing contributions to good will and dedication to fostering communication between disparate groups of people in the Upstate. Members of these organizations and their guests are invited to a special community dinner where they can share and educate those in attendance about their work.


This year there are two recognition awards this year:

Peace and Dialogue Category:

preview full preview lightbox MNV logo sm for emailThe recipient in this category must hold some leadership role in government, business or nonprofit and have used their position

to create an environment that encourages diversity and cooperation between individuals from a variety of backgrounds,

cultures, or faith traditions.

This year's Peace and Dialogue Recipient is My Neighbor's Voice a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring dialogue across

cultural and ideological boundaries.


 We are proud to recognize these vital community organizations by shining the spotlight on them for the community


Public and Community Service Category:

preview full preview full Church Logo 3 with Poe Mill Trans 2This individual or group must have made a large contribution to their local community through involvement in community service,

organized projects, and/or recruited diverse individuals to participate in community service projects.

This year's Public and Community Service Recipient is SEARCHlight.

The SEARCHlight Initiative is an organized group of dedicated seniors working in partnership with United Housing Connections (UHC), a 501(c)3, to raise funds to build permanent supportive housing for those in our community suffering from chronic homelessness and mental illness. To-date they have raised nearly 1 million dollars to fund the Church St Place Project – 36 studio units modeled after UHC’s Reedy Place.



The Atlantic Institute recently enjoyed a special film screening of Love is a Verb, a moving documentary that examines the life of Fethullah Gulen and the Hizmet Movement. We would like to thank our hosts, First Baptist of Greenville, our guest speakers, and all those in attendance for a lovely afternoon.

Our guest speakers had firsthand experience with the Hizmet Movement as well as being affected by the current persecution of Turkish people. The insights they shared helped form the context that allowed the film to resonate on a deeper level with those in attendance. Being able to walk away from this screening with a greater understanding of the subject matter elevated the experience, and we are grateful for the opportunity to share this film and its story with our friends.

If you missed this screening, don’t worry! Love is a Verb will return to the Upstate soon! Check back at our website often for screenings.



The Greenville office had a great turnout on Thursday evening for the showing of "Love is a Verb" The documentary illustrates the life of Fethullah Gulen and the Hizmet Movement that has been around since the 1960's. Everyone had an enjoyable evening at the Regal Simpsonville Stadium Theater.



Open Dialogue Night: The American Constitution and Religion

we the people

September 26th, the Atlantic Institute convened at the Hughes Main Library in downtown Greenville for our continuing series of Open Dialogue Nights. The focus of this Open Dialogue was the US Constitution and how it pertains to Religious freedoms. Speakers Dr. Peter Cohen and Rick Hahnenberg hosted the event and lead rigorous dialogue on the subject, which opened with President John F Kennedy’s timeless speech on the issue.

Dr. Peter Cohen is a Senior Lecturer in Religion at Clemson University. Rick Hahnenberg is the President of the Upstate SC chapter of Americans United. These two succinctly discussed the history of religious persecution and acceptance as it pertains to the Constitution. Discussing current events and past political events helped jumpstart the conversation. We would like the thank the participants for their openness, and willingness to lead a discussion.



Distinguished Speaker Series with Dr. Scott Alexander, Associate Professor of Islam

Atlantic Institute (formerly South Carolina Dialogue Foundation) Greenville Office hosted a lively discussion given by Dr. Scott Alexander Associate Professor of Islam, Director of Catholic-Muslim Studies Program, Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, on the subject: "Islamic Renewal, the Gülen Movement, and Turkish Democracy" on Monday April 15th.

Approximately 35 participants gathered to listen to his vivid lecture. He took us through time to discuss the rise and fall of the different empires and their leaders and the differing sects of Islam they belonged to. He broke down his in depth research and work for us to understand in lay terms how these leaders came into power, how history unfolded and how it continues to unfold today. Many questions were asked by those in the audience following his presentation. A reception followed his presentation for all to be able to stay longer and have conversation with eachother and with Dr. Alexander.

Escape Room Event

We are excited to announce the first in a series of events designed to expand opportunitites for teens of different faiths and cultural backgounds to meet and develop an understanding of each other, by cooperating to accomplish a common goal. Our hope is that -- through these fun and educational teambuilding "encounters" -- teens across The Upstate will send a message to the community that, while we may worship differently and come from different backgrounds, we have a LOT in common



Please RSVP:

(After submission you will be directed to the website to fill out the waiver. Or you can download, print and bring it with you)