Justice and Democracy Today

Justice, Democracy, and the 2020 Election

During the fall of 2020, this series hosted by the democracy program at Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation will tackle major developments around the election as they unfold, focusing on the democratic process itself, rather than the horse race, and featuring conversations with leading practitioners in the field.

Justice and Democracy During Pandemic 

Democracy and Justice During PandemicCOVID-19 has thrown into disarray an already tumultuous election cycle in the U.S., put a pause on mass protests around the world, and deepened preexisting inequities in society. All of this has changed the democracy and civic engagement landscape in previously unimaginable ways. The Democratic Governance Program at Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center, led by Archon Fung, Winthrop Laflin McCormack Professor of Citizenship and Self-Government, convened experts, practitioners and academics, for a discussion series during the summer of 2020 to explore the novel challenges that the pandemic poses for justice and democracy. Each event illuminated promising ideas and new work that not only meets the unique challenges posed by the pandemic but sets in place the foundations for deeper democracy and greater justice in the aftermath of COVID-19. 

All events are hosted virtually and recordings are availble for past events. 

Upcoming and Previous Recorded Events

2021 Mar 29

Book Talk - The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together

12:00pm to 1:00pm

Location: 

Virtual event, registration required

Join the Ash Center; Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life; Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at Harvard University; and Black Student Union at Harvard Kennedy School for a conversation with Heather McGhee, a leading voice in the national conversation on systemic racism and its consequences, and the author of the recently released book, The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together. The book is a personal journey and a powerful examination of the debilitating economic and social consequences of...

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2021 Feb 18

Moving Forward or Moving Backward: Election Legislation in the States

4:00pm to 5:00pm

Location: 

Virtual event, registration required

The 2020 elections hinged, in dramatic ways, on widely varying state laws and state election procedures. Major changes were made in light of the pandemic, to expand options for mail-in and early voting and to Election Day itself. These changes engendered strong support and strong opposition, and were one reason for the record turnout of 160 million voters. Now, state legislatures are in session all around the country. Will the changes adopted in 2020 be made permanent? Will voting options be expanded further? Or will states seek to roll back voting opportunities as a result? Join us for...

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2021 Feb 10

Can We Break Out of the Two-Party Doom Loop?

12:00pm to 1:00pm

Location: 

Virtual event, registration required

The January 6 Capitol insurrection shows that the United States is facing exceptional challenges to our democracy. Lee Drutman, Senior Fellow in the Political Reform Program at the New America Foundation, thinks that our two-party system is a root cause of that dysfunction. Although we have had a two-party system in name for many decades, there were divisions and overlaps between parties that created room for bargaining, compromise, crossing over, and even unity. In our current state of hyper-polarization, however, the two parties are fully sorted, and this give-and-take has eroded into...

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2021 Feb 23

Political Geographies of the Populist Right

4:00pm to 5:00pm

Location: 

Virtual event, registration required

Support for populist right-wing parties and candidates has increased considerably across the globe in recent years. In addition to this overall rise in support, receptiveness towards the exclusionary, reactionary rhetoric and policies of Bolsonaro, Trump, Modi or their European counterparts all have their own distinct electoral geographies. Join Ash Center Democracy Postdoctoral Fellow Pauliina Patana and a global panel of experts as they discuss how to make sense of these deep geographic divides, similarities and differences in spatial patterns across countries, strategies parties are...

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2020 Dec 17

Georgia on Our Minds: Voter Engagement and Voter Protection in the Senate Runoffs

12:00pm to 1:00pm

Location: 

Virtual event, registration required

At this moment, the attention of the country is sharply focused on the state of Georgia.  Just two months after a breathtakingly narrow election, one in which the mechanisms of democracy and the performance of the officials who administered it were severely tested, the voters of Georgia will make another high-stakes decision on January 5.  While the candidates and the media are mostly focused on who will win the two Senate runoff races, there is another crucial set of dynamics at work about the voting process itself.  We want to look at what efforts are taking place to...

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2020 Dec 15

Looking Forward: The Paths and Prospects for Democracy Reform

12:00pm to 1:00pm

Location: 

Virtual event, registration required

As the smoke (slowly) clears from the 2020 elections, advocates for full participation and democracy reform are charting a path forward.  In Congress and in state legislatures, the lessons of 2020 and the new contours of politics will shape efforts going forward.  What is the terrain reformers will confront, what are the reforms being proposed, and what are the prospects for success, short term and long term?  The Ash Center is pleased to pose these questions to four leading democracy advocates and election experts:... Read more about Looking Forward: The Paths and Prospects for Democracy Reform

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