The Soul of Civility: A Conversation with Alexandra Hudson

Tuesday, May 14, 2024
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

In-person: William J. Perry Conference Room (Encina Hall, 2nd floor, 616 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford)
Online: Via Zoom

  • Alexandra Hudson
Alexandra Hudson book talk

Author Alexandra Hudson, daughter of the "Manners Lady," was raised to respect others. But as she grew up, she discovered a difference between politeness―a superficial appearance of good manners―and true civility. In a timely new book, Hudson sheds light on how civility can help bridge our political divide. 

On May 14, the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law is pleased to host Hudson for a conversation about her latest book, The Soul of Civility: Timeless Principles to Heal Society and Ourselves (St. Martin's Press, 2023), with Francis Fukuyama, the Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI).


From classical philosophers like Epictetus, to great twentieth-century thinkers like Martin Luther King Jr., to her own experience working in the federal government during one of the most politically fraught eras in our nation's history, Hudson examines how civility―a respect for the personhood and dignity of others―transcends political disagreements. Respecting someone means valuing them enough to tell them when you think they are wrong.

It’s easy to look at the divided state of the world and blame our leaders, the media, or our education system. Instead, we should focus on what we can control: ourselves. The Soul of Civility empowers readers to live tolerantly with others despite deep differences, and to rigorously protest wrongs and debate issues rather than silencing disagreements. A robust public discourse is essential to a truly civil society, and respecting others means telling hard truths. If enough of us decide to change ourselves, we might be able to change the world we live in, too.

Provocative, personal, and acutely relevant, The Soul of Civility is an essential book for our era.


Alexandra Hudson

Alexandra Hudson


Alexandra O. Hudson is a writer, popular speaker, and the founder of Civic Renaissance, a publication and intellectual community dedicated to beauty, goodness, and truth. She was named the 2020 Novak Journalism Fellow, and contributes to Fox News, CBS News, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, TIME Magazine, POLITICO Magazine, and Newsweek. She earned a master’s degree in public policy at the London School of Economics as a Rotary Scholar, and is an adjunct professor at the Indiana University Lilly School of Philanthropy. She is also the creator of a series for The Teaching Company called Storytelling and The Human Condition. Her first book, The Soul of Civility: Timeless Principles to Heal Society and Ourselves, was released by St. Martin’s Press in October 2023. She lives in Indianapolis, IN, with her husband and children.


Francis Fukuyama 2022

Francis Fukuyama

Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow, FSI

Francis Fukuyama is Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), and a faculty member of FSI's Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL). He is also Director of Stanford's Masters in International Policy Program, and a professor (by courtesy) of Political Science.  Dr. Fukuyama has written widely on issues in development and international politics. His 1992 book, The End of History and the Last Man, has appeared in over twenty foreign editions. His most recent book, Liberalism and Its Discontents, was published in the spring of 2022.