On Friday, March 9th, 2018, the Board of Trustees at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, passed a resolution supporting the establishment of The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University.
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation committed $150 million to a joint effort with Johns Hopkins University to create the SNF Agora Institute, in order to forge new ways to address the deterioration of civic engagement worldwide and facilitate the restoration of open and inclusive discourse that is the cornerstone of healthy democracies.
Drawing inspiration from the Agora of ancient Athens, which was a hub of conversation and debate, and the center of the city-state’s democratic governance, the gift establishes the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University, as an academic and public forum bringing together experts from fields such as political science, psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, ethics, sociology, and history.
The Institute will examine the dynamics of societal, cultural and political polarization and develop ways to improve decision-making and civic discourse. It also will design and test mechanisms for strengthening democracy through dialogue and social engagement, and convene subject matter experts from a range of perspectives to explore new approaches to divisive issues.
World-renowned architect Renzo Piano and his Genoa-based office, the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, are designing SNF Agora’s new home on the Hopkins campus, and have unveiled their plans. “A building that houses an institute dedicated to democracy should be open, accessible, transparent – the work is for everyone,” said Renzo Piano of the designs. SNF Agora is set to break ground in fall of 2020, with completion of the building expected to follow in 2022.
On Monday, November 12th, 2018, Johns Hopkins University’s Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute held its first Board of Overseers meeting. Co-chairing the Board are SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos and President of Johns Hopkins University Ron Daniels. Other members include chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the United States Dina Kawar, Pulitzer Prize winner Bret Stephens, and renowned architect Renzo Piano, who is designing the Institute’s home at Hopkins. At the meeting, Mr. Piano presented preliminary design ideas for the new building. For a full list of Board members, click here.
The Agora Institute’s inaugural director is political scientist Hahrie Han. She is joined by Senior Fellows Anne Applebaum and Yascha Mounk.
Once a year, as part of the SNF’s DIALOGUES series during the Summer Nostos Festival, the SNF Agora Institute holds an open, public workshop at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC), in Athens, Greece.
On June 26th, 2019, the SNF Agora Institute held its second Board of Overseers meeting at the SNFCC following the 2nd Workshop co-organized as part of the SNF’s DIALOGUES.