Director outlines vision for SNF Agora Institute in Hopkins student news interview
17 September 2019

When political scientist Hahrie Han join the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Agora Institute as director this summer, she made it clear that coupling scholarship with real world action was a top priority.

In a recent interview with The Johns Hopkins News-Letter, the school’s independent student newspaper since 1896, she reaffirmed this focus and expanded on her vision for the Agora Institute.

She outlined the essential aims—and limits—of the project. “We aren’t telling people what to think, we’re not going to create a formula for democracy, or anything like that,” she’s quoted as saying in the News-Letter article, “but instead, we’re going to create spaces where people can learn to engage in the debate.”

She also touched on the dual challenge of being an organization at and of Hopkins while simultaneously seeking to broad and diverse engagement beyond the university. “What are the opportunities that students want to engage with? How do we engage with the different publics all over the world that we want to be part of our institute?”

Han recognized that in many ways, the Agora Institute is still taking shape. “There’s still a lot of meat we have to put on those bones,” she said.

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, SNF committed $150 million to a joint effort with Johns Hopkins University to create the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Agora Institute in 2018. The SNF Agora Institute brings together experts from fields such as political science psychology, and philosophy, to foster open and inclusive discourse.