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February 17, 2021 @ 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Democracy advocates, human rights activists, and scholars alike have argued that democracy is in peril around the world. Countries that once seemed like shining democratic success stories, seem to be regressing into authoritarianism. Once stable and thriving democracies are now having to address dissatisfied citizens and sharp increases in populism, nationalism, and civil unrest. Economic inequality, social instability, distrust of elites, and anxiety about the unprecedented threat to global public health posed by the COVID-19 pandemic are leaving many people in the global community unhappy with how democracy is working for them. This panel will consider the state of democracy in various countries around the world, issues that imperil democracy in those regions, and how the pandemic has created a range of new challenges to democratic freedom.

Panelists include Luísa Torres (University of Delaware), John Knaus (National Endowment for Democracy), Michael Kugelman (Wilson Center), and Patrick Stephenson (Imani Centre for Policy and Education).  The panel will be moderated by Justin Collier (“Why It Matters” Project Scholar and PhD candidate from the Political Science and International Relations Department in the University of Delaware).

Program Description

Did you know that in Norway non-citizens can vote after living in the country for three years? Or that in Switzerland all eligible voters are sent mail in ballots, which can be returned by the mail or dropped off at the polls? In a 2016 survey on global literacy conducted by National Geographic, only 14-29% of the general population could answer the survey questions correctly. When 1,203 recent college graduates were surveyed, the total percent of correct responses was just 55%. Citizens in the United States need to become more aware of the world around us and to perhaps look outward for some solutions to our internal issues. “Why it Matters: Civic and Electoral Participation” is a national initiative, administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils and funded by Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and aims to “explore civic participation as it relates to electoral engagement in a multivocal democracy”. The Delaware Humanities project seeks specifically to examine and elucidate systems in the United States by putting our democracy into a global context.   We will be hosting two lectures, two panel discussions, and five book discussions throughout the state, all running from January-April 2021.  Check back or join our mailing list for more information in the near future. Book Discussions Delaware Librarians! Would you like to host a book discussion of How to Rig an Election by Nic Cheeseman and Brian Klaas? Delaware Humanities will supply 20 books and a facilitator to four organizations in the state to host a discussion. Discussions must take place between January and April 2021. Libraries will be responsible for:
  • Advertising
  • Attracting a group of 15-20 individuals
  • Distributing the books for free to the 15-20 individuals
  • Coordinating a date and time for the virtual discussion with the facilitator
  • Sending Delaware Humanities the date, time, and registration information for the discussion
  • Gathering completed program evaluations from attendees
If interested, email Ciera Fisher at Past Programs Freedom Under Siege: The Global Retreat of Democracy Lecture (January 7, 2021) The Global State of Democracy Panel Discussion (February 17, 2021)