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New Anxieties of Democracy Program & Digital Collection

Photo credit: "Indignants Demonstration" [cropped] by Philippe Leroyer CC BY 2.0

The SSRC’s Anxieties of Democracy program is motivated by a concern about whether the core institutions of established democracies that connect citizens and civil society to the political system—elections, mass media, political parties, interest groups, social movements, and especially, legislatures—can capably address large problems in the public interest. A major new initiative for the Council, developed through a set of convenings that have gathered leading thinkers from a range of fields and areas of expertise, the program intends to mobilize existing research; promote new studies; publish and disseminate findings; forge pathways to bring this knowledge to policy, media, and public audiences; and provide opportunities for new generations of social scientists to address how to make democracies govern more effectively. Though emphasis will be placed on anxieties of democracy in the United States, the program will also work comparatively and conceptually across the globe.

The program’s inaugural publication, The Democracy Papers, is a digital collection of thought pieces that consider the question “How can representative democracies be strengthened to govern more effectively?” from a number of instructive preliminary perspectives. Originally produced by attendees for the Anxieties of Democracy developmental gatherings, contributors include political scientists, historians, and journalists, among others.

Photo credit: "Indignants Demonstration" [cropped] by Philippe Leroyer CC BY 2.0

In Council News

The Drugs, Security and Democracy Program has published the third in its series of DSD Working Papers on Research Security: “Security Considerations for Conducting Fieldwork in Highly Dangerous Places or on Highly Dangerous Subjects,” by Vanda Felbab-Brown [PDF available].

A new On the Line podcast features Drugs, Security and Democracy fellows Teo Ballvé (2012) and Winifred Tate (2012) in a discussion of their research on drugs, paramilitarism, and political participation in Colombia.

Editor Clara Ramírez-Barat describes the research motivation behind Transitional Justice, Culture, and Society: Beyond Outreach, the most recent volume in the SSRC Books series Advancing Transitional Justice, in an International Center for Transitional Justice podcast.

In the latest Voices installment at Next Generation Social Sciences, Next Gen Africa fellow Richard Mbunda (2013, 2014) shares his insights on the concept of food sovereignty and its potential for impact on agricultural development and sustainability in Tanzania [video].

Findings from the Education Research Program volume Academically Adrift are featured in Ivory Tower, a new documentary about the challenges faced by American colleges and universities, now playing at select US theaters.

The Sonoma County Gazette covered the release of Measure of America’s recent report A Portrait of Sonoma County, including the related engagement of new community partnerships and investments. In an immediate response to smoking and nicotine-addiction issues identified in the report, the county strengthened its smoking ordinance with a ban on e-cigarettes in certain public places.

The Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum’s China-Africa Knowledge Project was profiled in a China Daily piece: “A Lot of Thinking Put into the Tank.”

Renata Segura, associate director of the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum, cautioned the fragile coalition coming out of the Colombian presidential election in a timely article for the International Peace Institute’s Global Observatory: “In Spite of Himself, Santos Wins in Colombia, but End to War Not a Done Deal.”

African Peacebuilding Network fellow Cori Wielenga (2013) published an article based on her APN-supported research in Strategic Review for Southern Africa: “Reconciliation from the Top Down? Government Institutions in South Africa, Rwanda and Burundi.”

The Migration Program and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences convened American and Chinese social scientists from a range of disciplinary backgrounds in Beijing for the final meeting of the CASS-SSRC Common Concerns Seminar Series on “Migration, Social Development and Social Protection in China and the US.”

President Ira Katznelson opened Columbia University’s Buell Center Conference on the History of Architecture with a keynote address at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, in conjunction with the MoMA exhibition Frank Lloyd Wright and the City: “What Is a Decent City? Reflections on the Architecture of Fear” [video].

From Our Forums

At Kujenga Amani, a new Peacebuilding in Congo series essay by Christoph Vogel examines the implications of the largely unremarked killing of surrendering militia leader Paul Sadala. A recent Radar piece by Chris Kwaja places the May 20 bomb explosions in Jos, Nigeria, in the context of the ongoing security threat from Boko Haram.

The Immanent Frame conversation Beyond Critique continues with a consideration by Elizabeth Shakman Hurd of the theoretical and methodological possibilities for the study of religion, secular law, and politics. Rachel C. Schneider writes for the Here and There section on “Jesus, Religion, and Revolution in the South African Elections.”

On Deadline

Abe Fellowship
Applications Due: September 1

Mellon Mays Predoctoral Research Grants
Applications Due: November 1