Democracy's Futures Seminar Fall 2022
The Democracy's Futures seminar, co-convened by Ashraf Ahmed (Law) and Seyla Benhabib (Law) for Fall 2022, is an on-going Columbia initiative to explore and bolster democracy through engaged scholarship. From the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change, democracies face enormous structural challenges. These challenges have both exposed long-term erosion of our capacity for self-rule and opened the space for re-imagining what a robust and resilient form of popular government might look like.
Renovating democracy, however, requires taking a capacious view of what democracy means. In that spirit, we explore the various dimensions of contemporary democracies, from the formal mechanisms of self-rule such as elections to the institutional and social conditions that sustain it, including labor, technological change, and war. We take the task of reimagining democracy and what it might achieve as necessarily involving either the updating or reconfiguration of modern societies. While this ambition may seem grand, the interconnectedness of contemporary challenges to democracy require taking an expansive view.
We intend the seminar to be a forum for open, robust, and creative conversation both within the Columbia community and beyond. We hope participants will find the seminar a place to sharpen their ongoing scholarship and find inspiration for new and politically engaged work.