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Johns Hopkins Launches Interdisciplinary Effort to Reexamine and Improve Civic Engagement in the 21st Century

June 22, 2017

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The Stavros Niarchos Foundation has committed $150 million to a joint effort with Johns Hopkins University to forge new ways to address the deterioration of civic engagement worldwide and facilitate the restoration of open and inclusive discourse that is the cornerstone of healthy democracies.

The gift establishes the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University as an academic and public forum bringing together experts from fields such as political science, psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, ethics, sociology, and history. Together, they will examine the dynamics of societal, cultural, and political polarization and develop ways to improve decision-making and civic discourse. They also will design and test mechanisms for strengthening democracy through dialogue and social engagement, and convene subject matter experts from a range of perspectives to explore new approaches to divisive issues.

“In the U.S. and around the world, the rise in division, distrust and alienation presents a daunting and urgent challenge,” said Ronald J. Daniels, president of the university. “Today, cutting-edge research across a range of disciplines—coupled with a commitment to strengthen civic dialogue—can give us new insight into these trends and new opportunities for productive policymaking and problem-solving. The Agora Institute represents an extraordinary commitment to these aims, through a unique combination of scholarship, laboratory, and place-making. We are thrilled to lead the effort and look forward to partnering with scholars and institutions from across the globe.”

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.