Past Program

Jun 12 - Jun 19, 2001

Sustaining Democracy in the Modern World


One of the most profound developments of the final years of the 20th century was global democratization. Popular participation in political processes is now deeper and wider--that is, more thoroughgoing in the established democracies, and more far-reaching across the globe--than at any time in human history. We have entered an era in which the idea of democracy is an ascendant governing principle. Yet the practice of self-government is a fragile commodity. That the world has experienced a democratic revolution in recent years is not conclusive evidence that democratic governance will survive wherever it has emerged.


The central purpose of this session is to bring together from around the world those committed to popular government, to share their experiences in advancing democracy and their ideas about where their projects are vulnerable. Session participants will include academics, political and ngo activists, government and party officials, and journalists. Key areas of discussion will include the continuing viability and vulnerability of the world’s “New Democracies”; the implications for the established democracies of factors contributing to even greater popular involvement in public decision making (such as popular initiatives, the Internet, and grassroots organizing); the so-called “democratic deficit” -- that is, problems of democratic legitimacy and accountability -- in supranational institutions, including the government of the European Union and such bodies as the World Trade Organization; and the broad relationship between economics and political participation. Participants will examine the factors most useful to them in sustaining their particular democracies and how global developments influence their projects in ways that make cross-national cooperation useful, even necessary.


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