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; 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 racism,...

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

Read more about Moving Forward or Moving Backward: Election Legislation in the States
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...

Read more about Can We Break Out of the Two-Party Doom Loop?
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...

Read more about Political Geographies of the Populist Right
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...

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

2020 Nov 17

Voting in the Extraordinary 2020 Elections: What Worked for Voters, What Didn’t?

12:00pm to 1:15pm

Location: 

Virtual Event (Registration Required)

While it is way too early for a ‘retrospective’ given just how extraordinary this year’s election has been, we do now know a lot about the voting processes up to and including Election Day. The 2020 elections were a dramatic interplay of major procedural changes brought about as a result of COVID-19, multiple attempts to limit and discourage voting and a strong pushback against them, and extraordinary efforts to mobilize citizens to vote.  The Ash Center is glad to bring four deeply immersed leaders in these areas to share what they saw and...

Read more about Voting in the Extraordinary 2020 Elections: What Worked for Voters, What Didn’t?
2020 Nov 13

Reckoning with Election 2020: Race, Violence, & the Power of New Voters

3:00pm to 4:00pm

Location: 

Virtual Event (Registration Required)

Election 2020 proved to be historic in terms of the numbers of voters that were mobilized to the polls. The Election also made clear that there would be no nationwide repudiation of Trumpism. Join the Carr Center for Human Rights and the Ash Center for a conversation with leading scholars of racial politics about the election turnout, voter suppression, and what this means about the state of democracy today. This event is part of the Bending the Arc: A Talk Series with Dr. Megan Ming Francis

  • Dr. Christina M. Greer | ...
Read more about Reckoning with Election 2020: Race, Violence, & the Power of New Voters
2020 Oct 27

Will This Election Pick the Next President: Election Break Down and What to Do About It

1:00pm to 2:00pm

Location: 

Virtual event, registration required

The upcoming US election is unlike any in recent memory. Many are afraid that this most basic process of Americans voting to select their next President may break down. In this discussion, we’ll explore what election break down could look like: a President refusing to concede, a state legislature disregarding the popular vote, a tie breaker by a Supreme Court some view as illegitimate, Congress deciding the election according to “contingent election” provisions, or something else altogether? We’ll also explore how a wide range of democracy organizations and civic networks are...

Read more about Will This Election Pick the Next President: Election Break Down and What to Do About It
2020 Nov 19

Protecting and Deepening Our Democracy: What Should We Do Now?

5:30pm

Location: 

Virtual event, registration required

Join Archon Fung for an exploration of some possible futures of American democracy and what can be done to create a more equal and inclusive democracy. Fung is the Winthrop Laflin McCormack Professor of Citizenship and Self-Government at the Harvard Kennedy School. His research explores policies, practices, and institutional designs that deepen the quality of democratic governance with a focus on public participation, deliberation, and transparency. He co-directs the Transparency Policy Project and leads democratic governance programs of the Ash Center for...

Read more about Protecting and Deepening Our Democracy: What Should We Do Now?
2020 Oct 26

Queer the Vote: Mobilizing the LGBTQ Community Ahead of the 2020 Elections

12:00pm to 1:00pm

Location: 

Virtual event, registration required

The LGBTQ community has made significant strides towards equality and progress in recent years, but has also faced renewed hostility and political setbacks. Across the country, practitioners and activists are working to mobilize a diverse coalition and encourage them to make their voices heard on Election Day. Join the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation as we discuss the priorities of LGBTQ voters and how they are being mobilized to get out and vote this November. Panelists include:

  • Chasten Buttigieg, Fall 2020 Fellow, Institute of...
Read more about Queer the Vote: Mobilizing the LGBTQ Community Ahead of the 2020 Elections
2020 Oct 13

Young Voters Could Decide the Election: Will They?

12:00pm to 1:00pm

Location: 

Virtual event, registration required

Every election cycle, we lament low young voter turnout rates. Yet, in the last few years, young people have been at the forefront of the movements for racial justice, climate justice, gun violence prevention, and policing issues. They have taken their advocacy to the streets and to elected officials. We saw an uptick in youth voter rates in 2018. Now, will this energy translate into an even larger upswell of young voters in November?

You’re invited to join the Ash Center and Institute of Politics in discussion with leading experts about the latest young voter polling data,...

Read more about Young Voters Could Decide the Election: Will They?
2020 Oct 08

[Book Talk] Why Do We Still Have the Electoral College? with Prof. Alex Keyssar

12:00pm to 1:00pm

Location: 

Virtual event, registration required

This event concluded on October 08, 2020. View the original description and event recording below.

In just over three weeks, millions will head to the polls and elect the president of the United States via an arcane institution that permits the loser of the popular vote to win, and narrows campaigning to just a handful of swing states. In this discussion, Prof. Alex Keyssar will be joined by Prof. Edward Foley and Tova Wang to discuss his new book, why the founders settled on such an institution, it’s persistence over the hundreds of years since, and current efforts to preserve, circumvent, or abolish it.

... Read more about [Book Talk] Why Do We Still Have the Electoral College? with Prof. Alex Keyssar

2020 Oct 20

Navigating the Rapids: Swing State Secretaries and the 2020 Elections

4:00pm to 5:00pm

Location: 

Virtual event, registration required

As we approach the final weeks of the election campaign, Secretaries of State - particularly in swing states - face tremendous pressures as they fulfill their responsibilities to provide a smooth, inclusive, and safe election that delivers a trusted result. The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation is privileged to bring together a bipartisan group of secretaries from the key swing states of Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. They will discuss the challenges they are facing, the pressures they are under, and what they are doing to make the November elections...

Read more about Navigating the Rapids: Swing State Secretaries and the 2020 Elections
2020 Oct 06

Rising: AAPI Engagement and the 2020 Elections

4:00pm to 5:00pm

Location: 

Virtual event, registration required

This event concluded on October 6, 2020. View the original description and event recording below.

The national reckoning on racial inequity, amidst the continued spread of Covid-19, has spurred major efforts to ensure full participation and a strong turnout in November’s elections. This is particularly true among the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community – the fastest growing minority group and a major voting bloc. Join us for a conversation with leading practitioners in the field on the importance and state of current efforts to engage AAPI voters, AAPIs’ role and connection to the Black Lives Matter movement, and the stakes of the upcoming election.... Read more about Rising: AAPI Engagement and the 2020 Elections

2020 Sep 15

Election 2020: What Keeps You Up at Night?

4:00pm to 5:00pm

Location: 

Register for virtual event details

This event concluded on September 15, 2020. View the original description and event recording below.

What are the greatest threats to a successful U.S. election in November? Join the Ash Center in discussion with three leading U.S. election practitioners - one litigator, one election official, and one national grassroots organizing leader – as we ask each of them a series of questions about their greatest fears around the voting process, their work to achieve a fully inclusive and well-...

Read more about Election 2020: What Keeps You Up at Night?
2020 Sep 10

Getting Out the BIPOC Vote: Digital Strategies to Build Power

12:00pm to 1:00pm

Location: 

Register for virtual event details

This event concluded on September 10, 2020. View the original description and event recording below.

Activists and practitioners were already preparing for a tumultuous election year before the COVID-19 pandemic hit our shores. Now, the months ahead present immense challenges – and opportunities – for redefining how civic engagement is practiced for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.

Join us on...

Read more about Getting Out the BIPOC Vote: Digital Strategies to Build Power
2020 Aug 05

From Patients to Voters: Civic Engagement in Health Care

12:00pm to 1:00pm

Location: 

Register for virtual event details
This event concluded on August 5, 2020. View the original description and event recording below.
 
Health care is the single most important issue for most Americans, yet 51 million people forego a considerable amount of influence in shaping our nation’s health policy by not registering to...
Read more about From Patients to Voters: Civic Engagement in Health Care
2020 Jul 22

The Power of Art: Black Artists Respond to Pandemic, Demands for Racial Justice, and Threats to Democracy

12:00pm to 1:00pm

Location: 

Register for virtual event details

This event concluded on July 22, 2020. View the original description and event recording below.

Art has the power to provoke, inspire, inform, and force new ways of thinking - particularly in times of crisis. Over the last few years, artists have been engaged in resistance movements, encouraging political participation through their art, and calling attention to issues and tragic events that confront us in novel and affecting ways.

Join the Ash Center and Hutchins Center for African and African American Research for a discussion on how ...

Read more about The Power of Art: Black Artists Respond to Pandemic, Demands for Racial Justice, and Threats to Democracy
2020 Jul 08

Protest, Mobilization, and the 2020 Election: The Role of Philanthropy

Registration Closed 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Location: 

Virtual event

This event concluded on July 8, 2020. View the original description and event recording below.

We are in an unprecedented moment of protest and mobilization against the biting impact of racism and inequality. This reckoning is coming just a few months before an election of enormous consequence, with challenges to participation as a result of COVID-19. What can philanthropy do to be most effective? Can it pivot as fast as is needed? What needs to change? Join a conversation with leading practitioners in philanthropy who will talk about all of these...

Read more about Protest, Mobilization, and the 2020 Election: The Role of Philanthropy
2020 Jun 09

A Discussion on Black Lives, Protest, and Democracy

Registration Closed 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Location: 

Virtual event

This event concluded on June 9, 2020. View the original description and event recording below.

Protests continue to sweep across the United States following the violent killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and countless others at the hands of police. Join the Ash Center for a conversation with leading scholars and practitioners about the protests, their place in the long fight for social justice, and what they tell us about the state of democracy in America today.
 
Panelists include:

  • Dr....
Read more about A Discussion on Black Lives, Protest, and Democracy
2020 Jun 10

A New Deal During COVID-19: A Million-Person Health Corps?

Registration Closed 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Location: 

Register for virtual event

This event concluded on June 10, 2020. View the original description and event recording below.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a large toll on public health and the economy. Several leading thinkers have proposed a massive public jobs program, reminiscent of the New Deal Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration, that would hire hundreds of thousands who need employment to both fight COVID-19 and enhance health care in the United States.

Alan Khazei, founder of City Year, Be the Change, and current candidate for Congress, co-...

Read more about A New Deal During COVID-19: A Million-Person Health Corps?
2020 Jun 04

Democracy, Pandemic, and How We Move Forward

7:00pm

Location: 

Virtual event

This event concluded on June 4, 2020. View the original description and event recording below.

Join the Ash Center for a International Festival of Arts and Ideas event. Former Connecticut Secretary of State Miles Rapoport will moderate a conversation with political commentator and author Heather McGhee, political activist and CEO of Voto Latino María Teresa Kumar, and political scholar Archon Fung, all of whom have spent their lives working to strengthen our democracy. Together...

Read more about Democracy, Pandemic, and How We Move Forward
2020 May 27

Empowering Workers in the Fight Against COVID-19

Registration Closed 12:00pm to 1:00pm

This event concluded on May 27, 2020. View the original description and event recording below.

COVID-19 is amplifying a fundamental democratic mismatch: the vulnerable, often low-income and of-color, workers who are among the most affected by this pandemic have little influence over decisions — in companies and governments — about how this pandemic is managed.

Julie Battilana and Isabelle Ferreras...

Read more about Empowering Workers in the Fight Against COVID-19
2020 May 19

Voting In the Time of COVID-19: Can We Make It Work?

Registration Closed 12:00pm to 1:15pm

This event concluded on May 19, 2020. View the original description and event recording below.

The hurricane that is COVID-19 is blowing through the 2020 elections. Across the board, and the aisle, election officials, election scholars, and voting rights advocates are currently working and debating how to make November a success, rather than a catastrophe. Join us for a discussion about how we can come together to both find and make real solutions to safe...

Read more about Voting In the Time of COVID-19: Can We Make It Work?
2020 May 06

Fighting for Social Justice in a Pandemic

Registration Closed 1:00pm to 2:00pm

This event concluded on May 6, 2020. View the original description and event recording below.

Join us for a dynamic discussion on how organizing and social movement tactics and methods are changing in the COVID-19 era of physical distancing. Participants will learn what the priorities of social justice networks and organizations are, and how they have changed in the time of Coronavirus. We will also discuss what leaders in the field have been learning about power building in light of these changes.

... Read more about Fighting for Social Justice in a Pandemic
2020 Apr 27

COVID-19's Impact on Democracies around the World

Registration Closed 12:00pm to 1:00pm

This event concluded on April 27, 2020. View the original description and event recording below.

With coronavirus touching every corner of the globe, join us for a discussion with academics from Brazil, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States to compare the relationship between democratic governance and COVID-19 in different countries.

Speakers include:

  • ...
Read more about COVID-19's Impact on Democracies around the World