What is the Impact of Civil Discourse within a Liberal Democracy?

“So why, then, do I love the Constitution? I love it for its practical leadership. I love it because it is the world’s greatest teaching document for one part of the story freedom: the question of how free and equal citizens check and channel power both to protect themselves from domination by one another and to secure their mutual protection from external forces that might seek their domination,” says Professor Danielle Allen of Harvard University in her October 2020 piece for The Atlantic.

As an IHS Distinguished Fellow, Allen is no stranger to discussions on the future of liberalism in America.

Professor Danielle AllenHarvard University

As a facet of the IHS Discourse Initiative, distinguished fellows convene for a series of conversations among scholars from across the ideological spectrum with the goal to respond to illiberal and authoritarian top-down solutions through open dialogue within the academy. 

With this spirit at the helm, Allen and IHS president and CEO Emily Chamlee-Wright will host a discussion on the meaning and history of freedom in America on Thursday, May 13, 2021.

The live-stream discussion, which culminates with a Q&A session, will focus on the long-standing tensions between liberty and equality and the need for civil dialogue to address these issues within a liberal democracy. Registration for the event is available on the IHS website.

In addition to her work at Harvard and The Atlantic, Allen serves as the principal investigator for the Democratic Knowledge Project, a distributed research and action lab at Harvard University. She is also the author of several books, including The World of Prometheus: The Politics of Punishing in Democratic Athens (2000), Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown vs. the Board of Education (2004), Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality (2014) to list as few, as well as the the co-editor of the award-winning Education, Justice, and Democracy (2013, with Rob Reich).

For more information and to register for the discussion, visit TheIHS.org. The Institute for Humane Studies is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2021. For more spotlights on scholars, faculty partners, and classical liberal ideas, visit TheIHS.org/60.

IHS 60th Anniversary

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