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Partly-cipating or fully participating?

From “partly-cipation” to participation:

Join the conversation on civic engagement and civil discourse 

In an era marked by rapid sociopolitical changes, escalating conflicts, and technological disruptions, civic engagement has become increasingly important. At the same time, citizens often find themselves overwhelmed, and doubt their ability to effect meaningful change within their communities.

To move beyond mere "partly-cipation" and foster genuine democratic participation, it's vital that we push ourselves to engage deeply with our communities, find collaborative solutions to common problems, and re-define what it means to be a citizen in a modern democracy.  

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) has prioritized these principles throughout its grantmaking, directing support towards organizations committed to fostering active citizenship, democratic participation, and civil discourse. 

In this spirit, SNF is excited to introduce a series of open discussions in the coming months through the SNF Dialogues initiative, aiming to encourage inclusive discussions that bridge the gap between passive involvement and active, meaningful participation in civic life. 

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The events

Upcoming Events

November 12, 2024

At Johns Hopkins University Campus

The Role of Universities in Modern Democracy

More information will be available soon

In collaboration with the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University

Past Events

May 29, 2024

Wilmington, Delaware

As part of the SNF Ithaca x iMEdD Media and Democracy Summit

Consumers or Citizens

Have politics become a commodity? In an era saturated with political advertisement across traditional and digital media platforms, especially during election cycles, the SNF Dialogues will explore the repercussions of the commercialization of politics and the evolving role of citizens within this framework.

In collaboration with The University of Delaware

April 30, 2024

At the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL) in New York

Beyond Books: How libraries can serve the public

The SNF Dialogues launched a series of open discussions on Civic Engagement and Civil Discourse in the US, on April 30th, at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL) in New York. "Beyond Books: how libraries can serve the public”, underscored libraries' pivotal role as safe spaces that serve the public, focusing on community participation, the advent of technology and fundraising issues

In collaboration with The New York Public Library

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Active citizenship is a cornerstone of democracy

A long focus on civic engagement and civil discourse

Civic engagement and civil discourse are the cornerstones of democracy, and both are central to SNF’s grantmaking. We know that when people get involved in their communities, get together to talk it out, and engage across divides with curiosity and empathy, society as a whole is healthier and stronger. 

For years, fostering civil discourse across social divides and incubating the habits of active, engaged citizenship, especially among young people, has been a key priority for SNF.

A cluster of major efforts at US universities—and radiating outward from them—aims to advance this aim. The SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University brings together experts from political science, psychology, philosophy, and other disciplines to foster open and inclusive discourse by engaging a wide public. The SNF Paideia Program at the University of Pennsylvania seeks to imagine a new approach to educating students as whole people and citizens. The SNF Ithaca Initiative at University of Delaware Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy & Administration inculcates foundational skills that help students become engaged citizen-leaders and participants in civil discourse. 

Because it’s never too soon to start thinking and acting like a citizen, other SNF grants support civics programs targeting middle and high schoolers. Generation Citizen encourages young people to identify an issue that affects their daily lives, like lead in the drinking water at their school or a lack of safe sidewalks in the area, then helps them gain a framework for addressing it and make real change. The Tang Academy for American Democracy at the New-York Historical Society uses experiential activities to help sixth-grade students learn about the history of our democracy and feel the importance of getting involved in keeping it vibrant. 

Leadership is key, and with support from SNF, the Tällberg Foundation seeks to identify leaders addressing the real, urgent problems people face and create platforms for them to share their ideas, including the Tällberg-SNF-Eliasson Global Leadership Prize and the Tällberg Leaders Mentoring Leaders program. 

Inextricable from these civic goals is the creation of vibrant, inclusive public spaces. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Public Library (SNFL), the New York Public Library’s remade central circulating branch, for instance, welcomes all New Yorkers into a beautiful public space for discovery, growth, and collaboration. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation-Lincoln Center Agora Initiative has aimed to reimagine how urban public space can better serve an inclusive public. The  SNFCC in Athens, given to the people of Greece in 2017, has created an interdisciplinary public destination that comprises the National Library of Greece, abundant public green space, the Greek National Opera, and venues for civic events of all sorts. A recent grant toward the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago supports space and programming that furthers the Center’s mission of creating a public “commons” where people can learn, grow, and connect with one another. 

The meta-discourse, conscience, and opportunity for reflection humming along behind all these grant projects aiming to buttress and invigorate democracy is, of couse, the SNF Dialogues, an open platform for discussion and the exchange of ideas on critical and timely topics. SNF Dialogues and these events are curated and moderated by SNF Dialogues Executive Director, iMEdD Managing Director, and journalist Anna-Kynthia Bousdoukou. 

Join us for discussions that are sure to be as illuminating as they are lively!