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.
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. This year’s inaugural event focused on “Disrupting Polarization” and introduced the type of work the Institute will be undertaking – from exploring the decline of modern dialogue and decision-making, to sharing lessons learned on promoting open discussion to proposing innovative reforms to reverse the corrosive deterioration of norms. The 2nd SNF Agora Institute workshop will take place on June 26th, 2019.