14 NOVEMBER 2018 / SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University Holds First Board Meeting

On Monday, November 12th, Johns Hopkins University’s Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute held its first Board of Overseers meeting.

The Agora Institute, established in 2017 as a collaborative endeavor between the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) and Johns Hopkins University, seeks to develop strategies to encourage civic engagement and inclusive public discussion around the world. The Institute takes a three-pronged approach: Hopkins faculty and other scholars will provide an intellectual foundation; the Agora Lab will develop practical interventions for civil discourse; and broad engagement will take place through public events. Given the Agora Institute’s purview in challenges surrounding public discourse, public outreach and engagement are essential to its goals, and the Board highlighted the need to embrace outreach as an integral element of the work.

The Agora Institute aims to bring a diversity of voices into productive dialogue, and the first Board meeting embodies this goal. 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.

Attendees discussed the long-term vision of the Institute, focusing on core questions of the work including how best to link academic knowledge-creation to practical application on the ground. A program of events that began this fall with sociologist Eric Klinenberg discussing how investing in social infrastructure can reduce polarization will continue in spring 2019 with a slate of courses and events. A conference planned for March, in collaboration with the Renew Democracy Initiative, aims to bring together a range of public intellectuals, including Garry Kasparov, Bret Stephens, and Anne Applebaum, to discuss the evolution of democracy in the 21st century in America and abroad. Announcement of an inaugural director for the Institute is anticipated in the near future.

For a full list of Board members, click here.