Recent years have witnessed a deluge of commentary warning of imminent threats to democracy in the US, the West and the world. In the US, this rhetoric has become especially heated with the rise of Donald Trump.
Is American democracy really under threat? What about democracy in the West, or the world more generally? If democracy is under threat, what can we do about it? And if it’s not under threat, why are so many of us so worried that it is? The Democratic Erosion Consortium aims to help answer these questions through a combination of teaching, research, and civic and policy engagement.
The Democratic Erosion Consortium is a collaboration between academics, students, policymakers, and practitioners that aims to help illuminate and combat threats to democracy both in the US and abroad through a combination of teaching, research, and civic and policy engagement.
The Democratic Erosion Consortium consists of four pillars: pedagogy, data collection, evidence briefs, and public outreach.
Pedagogy: The Consortium aims to improve education on democratic erosion for academics, policymakers, and practitioners. Since fall 2017, faculty at more than 60 universities have taught a collaborative course on democratic erosion using the same shared syllabus. Our students work together on assignments and are expected to engage not only with their peers, but with the public as well. We will soon be making available a short, online version of the course aimed at practitioner and policymaker audiences.
Data collection: Understanding and mitigating democratic erosion requires systematically documenting threats to democracy both cross-nationally and at the state level in the US. To that end, we are constructing a unique event dataset capturing the symptoms and precursors of democratic erosion across countries and over time, which we have used to conduct research and prepare reports for our partners in the policymaker and practitioner communities.
Evidence briefs: All too often there is a gap between the practitioners and policymakers who design interventions to strengthen democracy and the researchers who generate rigorous empirical evidence on which of these interventions are most likely to succeed. We will soon begin producing evidence briefs that synthesize existing research on topics related to democratic erosion and communicate that evidence to policymakers, practitioners, and the public writ large. The briefs will be accompanied by a series of public-facing conferences, convenings and roundtables.
Outreach: The three activities above support our broader goal of fostering learning, dialogue and partnerships among researchers, policymakers and practitioners; facilitating more impactful research; and developing more effective, evidence-based interventions to strengthen democracy worldwide. We seek to build networks and academic-practitioner collaborations through an Annual Convening, regular roundtables and workshops, and a small grants program to support pilot collaborations.
To learn more and receive updates on our activities, please sign up for our listserv.