Diverse lineup of thought leaders to discuss future of democracy

SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins and Renew Democracy Initiative will co-host a daylong conference featuring more than 20 leading pundits, policymakers, scholars, and journalists

As nativism, populism, and authoritarianism rise around the world, and as institutions that protect our liberties are buffeted by attacks, can democracy endure? It is among the essential questions of our time.

It's also the central focus of a daylong event that will bring a diverse lineup of more than 20 leading pundits, policymakers, scholars, and journalists to Baltimore this week for "Reawakening the Spirit of Democracy," co-hosted by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins and the Renew Democracy Initiative. The event will be held Thursday at the George Peabody Library in Baltimore.

Speakers and panelists include Renew Democracy Initiative chairman Garry Kasparov, Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum, Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, former Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski, former Democratic National Committee interim chair Donna Brazile, New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, and PBS NewsHour correspondent Yamiche Alcindor, among many others.

Johns Hopkins University president Ronald J. Daniels will provide opening remarks.

"This is a critical opportunity not only to probe into what is happening with democracy today, but also to model the kind of wide-ranging discourse we think is important for reinvigorating it," says Elizabeth Smyth, adviser to the president on the SNF Agora Institute. "We're welcoming a variety of perspectives on the topic, with bipartisan, global representation."

The pairing of the SNF Agora Institute and the Renew Democracy Initiative, a D.C. nonprofit founded in 2017, brings together two groups pursuing ways to strengthen the ideals of democracy. Kasparov—also chair of the Human Rights Foundation and former world chess champion—is a member of the Board of Overseers at the SNF Agora Institute.

"American democracy is in crisis," Kasparov says. "This important event brings together dozens of prominent leaders and thinkers to diagnose the crisis, make recommendations for action, and to further RDI's mission of breaking through against the anger of the extremes as well as the apathy of the middle."

The full schedule, including a working agenda of participants, can be found online. Those interested in attending should register in advance. The event also will be available via livestream broadcast on the Johns Hopkins Ustream channel.