Question for the 2022 Theme

  • Four pillars are often cited as essential to democracy: free and fair elections, active participation of citizens in politics, protection of human rights, and the rule of law. Do we agree? How can we best evaluate the state of democracy in the U.S. and elsewhere?
  • What role should education play in preparing citizens to participate in the democratic process? Has the decline of civics education in American schools contributed to our current dysfunction?
  • How does growing economic inequality contribute to political instability and conflict? Are other economic factors (e.g., policies on labor, immigration and trade) critical to the success or failure of democracy?
  • With conflicting claims of truth proliferating through social media and other online sources, how can citizens and elected officials meaningfully debate and/or resolve opposing views on about public policy?
  • What has the COVID -19 pandemic revealed about the state of American democracy?
  • What are the consequences for democracy if citizens refuse to accept the validity of election results that disappoint them?
  • To what extent is democracy at risk due to declining public trust of institutions?
  • One scholar contends that recent events indicate “democracy could fail while remaining intact.” Are constitutionally prescribed safeguards and structures sufficient to prevent this?
  • What can keep majority rule from becoming its own form of tyranny, depriving political minorities of their rights?
  • Can democracy succeed where women and minorities are not fully enfranchised and able to participate?
  • Are some cultures in the world inherently resistant to democratic ideals and human rights?
  • In what ways have religious teachings or traditions either supported or undermined efforts to establish and sustain democracies?
  • What is the appropriate relationship between the military and civil governance in democratic societies?
  • Why have citizens of democracies so often ceded power to totalitarians or despots in crises or times of challenge?

Are you ready to join this year’s symposium as a speaker? The next step is to submit a proposal.