Center for Global Humanities Lecture/Seminar Series

Uniting a Divided America

6:00 pm - 7:15 pm
Portland Campus (WCHP Lecture Hall in Parker Pavilion )
Colin Woodard
Free and open to the public. There will be a reception at 5 P.M. in the Art Gallery.

Colin Woodard, one of the nation’s leading authorities on North American regionalism, describes how the United States has become unraveled—putting the continued survival of the republic and the federation in doubt—and what we must do to rescue the situation. There’s never been one America, he argues, but several Americas, each with their own, centuries-old ideals, values, and religious and cultural heritage. Tensions between these regional cultures have riven our balkanized federation and, in recent decades, created the conditions for the collapse of our liberal democratic experiment. And the main thing that has held us together—the commitment to a set of ideals laid forth in the Declaration of Independence—is withering under a sustained attack by an expanding illiberal, authoritarian movement rooted in the darker corners of our national past. Woodard will describe what pro-democracy forces across the partisan spectrum must do in both the short and middle term to heal our battered union.


Colin Woodard is the director of Nationhood Lab at the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina University, which delivers more effective tools with which to describe and defend the American liberal democratic tradition and better understand and defeat the forces undermining it. He is the New York Times bestselling author of six books including American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America; American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good; and Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood. As such, he is a leading authority on North American regionalism and the challenges to constructing and maintaining a U.S. peoplehood. 

A longtime foreign correspondent of The Christian Science MonitorThe San Francisco Chronicle, and The Chronicle of Higher Education, Woodard covered the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, ethnic conflict in the Balkans, war crimes trials in The Hague, and climate change in the Antarctic. He has covered Congress, the rise and fall of an authoritarian-minded populist governor, and the struggles of Maine’s indigenous people to secure rights enjoyed by all the other federally-recognized tribes. While a staff writer at the Portland Press Herald he won a George Polk Award and was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. His work has been featured by CNN, the BBC World Service, MSNBC, PBS News Hour, NPR, The EconomistNew York TimesWashington PostThe Guardian, and Politico, where he is a contributing writer, and inspired a prime-time NBC drama and a Ubisoft video game.

A graduate of Tufts University and the University of Chicago, he is past Pew Fellow in International Journalism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in London. He lives in Freeport, Maine.

Suggested Readings

  • Woodard, Colin. Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood. Penguin Books, an Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 2021.
  • Woodard, Colin. American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America. Penguin Books, 2022.


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