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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

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Notre Dame launches Democracy Initiative

This spring, the University launched the Notre Dame Democracy Initiative, one of six initiatives part of the strategic framework of Notre Dame for 2033. Through the initiative, the University aims to be a “global catalyst” for bolstering democracy.

The initiative is centered around collaboration between scholars at the University’s programs and those from across the United States. Not only does the initiative work to engage people from many sources, but it also aims to engage people from many disciplines of study and political perspectives.

“Democracy is under threat both in the U.S. and over the world,” Packey J. Dee Professor of American Democracy and director of the Democracy Initiative David Campbell said.

According to Campbell, Notre Dame, in adhering to its Catholic mission, has been at the forefront of vitalizing democracy around the world. The Democracy Initiative aims to build on the strength and actions of previous Notre Dame forums, studies and efforts.

The 2023-2024 Notre Dame forum, “The Future of Democracy,” invited scholars and students to stimulate reflection and dialogue regarding increasing threats to global democracy. Additionally, the forum’s events pushed attendees to consider how democracy can be revitalized both domestically and internationally to effectively handle the modern challenges the world faces today.

“[The goal of the initiative is to] ensure that [the] education we are providing to students equips and prepares the students to be a contributing member of the democratic society,” Campbell said.

The initiative is focused on research, education and convening.

According to Campbell, the initiative hopes, that by providing spaces and resources for students and scholars to ask important questions about democracy, Notre Dame will produce students and scholars who can actively inform the government in developing policies that enhance democracy around the world. 

In partnership with the Hesburgh Democracy Fellows Program, the initiative also launched “Democracy Talks,” a speaker series that discusses a broad range of topics around democracy. In May, the “Keeping the Republic Conference” and “Global Democracy Conference” will bring together prominent scholars and researchers to discuss the ways that individuals and social institutions can be contributing members to the revitalization of American democracy.

Campbell invites students who wish to contribute to democracy to become engaged with the community and their neighbors. Campbell emphasized the need for engagement with people of different backgrounds, so students can have more constructive conversations regarding the topic.

“Any democracy is fragile,” Campbell said. “No one should assume that democracy will continue without the efforts of individual citizens.”