Democracy in Times of Crisis: When Freedom and Security Collide

The 2021 W&J Symposium on Democracy will focus on “Democracy in Times of Crisis: When Freedom and Security Collide.” The tension that often exists between freedom and security has been heightened by recent events in our nation and around the world. Most recently, the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol threatened the security of elected leaders and the democratic process itself. In the wake of this insurrection, federal troops limited access to Washington, D.C., and corporations banned users from posting on social media, arguing that security concerns sometimes outweigh freedom of expression. Meanwhile, as the global health pandemic rages on, debates continue about the extent to which government should mandate health protocols such as masking and social distancing.

Over the last year, some public officials responded to protests against racial injustice with curfews, tear gas and other forceful methods, insisting it was necessary to limit freedom of assembly in the interest of maintaining security. Internationally, 2020 saw a continuing decline in democracy as many governments imposed new limits on individual freedoms and political dissent. For example, China instituted a “national security law” to suppress democratic rule in Hong Kong and arrested elected leaders and pro-democracy activists.

The 2021 W&J Symposium on Democracy will explore these and other issues with sessions led by noteworthy leaders, academic experts, and our own students.


Opening Remarks from W&J President
John C. Knapp and Gov. Tom Wolf

Tom Wolf

February 17 @ 8:45 am - 9:00 am EST

Freedom on the Net – A Global Overview of Human Rights in the Digital Age

Adrian Shahbaz

February 17 @ 10:00 am - 10:45 am EST

Morning Student Breakout Sessions

Afternoon Agenda

The Democracy Crisis in Hong Kong:
Special Report from Nathan Law

Nathan Law

February 17 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm EST

Lunch Break

February 17 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm EST

Leadership in Unprecedented Times

Jocelyn Benson

February 17 @ 1:00 pm - 1:45 pm EST

Afternoon Student Breakout Sessions

Evening Agenda

Eyewitness Reflections on the Capitol Insurrection, Biden Inauguration and Other Historic Events

Pat Benic

February 17 @ 3:00 pm - 3:45 pm EST

Understanding White Supremacy | Decoding the Actions of the White Power Movement

Kathleen Belew

February 17 @ 4:00 pm - 4:45 pm EST

Closing Remarks from W&J President John C. Knapp

Dr. John C. Knapp

February 17 @ 4:45 pm - 5:00 pm EST

Symposium on Democracy Book Discussion

February 17 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm EST


Kathleen Belew-Photo

Kathleen Belew


Pat Benic


Jocelyn Benson


Nathan Law

AS Headshot

Adrian Shahbaz

Video Playlist