How can we achieve better governance and citizen engagement? Explore real solutions to the most pressing issues facing democracy during the 2020 Athens Democracy Forum, a free virtual event which will be held from September 30 to October 2. It is open to the public, and you can register here to attend.

Themed ‘The New Abnormal: Reimagining Democracy,’ the Athens Democracy Forum will convene leaders from government, business, civic society, and the nonprofit sector.

Why is this important?

Even before the current crisis, democracy was threatened: from hijacked elections to the spread of extreme ideologies to the increasingly sophisticated tactics of strongmen. The effects have become alarmingly apparent: migration shifts, climate change, economic uncertainty, and general global unrest.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the assaults have become even more prevalent, and calls to reinvent democracy are more urgent than ever.

What do our students say?

“I don’t think true democracy is alive in any nation at the moment and the amount of democracy which some nations have is crumbling. It’s important that we study the origins of democracy, what it means to be a democratic nation, and how democracy can survive this new age,” says Hava Mansouri ’21.

Originally from Tehran, Iran, she will graduate from Franklin in the spring with a combined major in History and International Management. Hava will be attending this virtual event because “it is a great opportunity” and “to engage in conversation and debate which can only lead to me becoming a better version of myself.”

To protect democracy right now, Hava suggests voting in one’s home elections. Also, students can join the Student Government Association (SGA) to help maintain democracy at Franklin. Her third idea is “to be more involved with the Ticinesi community, so that we can establish better relations between our students and the community, and to ensure that all voices are heard.”

Luciana Vazquez ’21 will also graduate in the spring, with a B.A. in International Economics and Social Justice and Sustainability. Originally from Paraguay, she also lived in both Senegal and Mauritius before coming to Switzerland. She has seen a lot of the problems facing our world. Luciana accepts that it is her turn to lead, because she and other young people are inheriting them.

“I owe it to [the world] to be more involved. Democracy is the one way that all citizens have the right to be heard and for actual change be made. Abraham Lincoln once said, ‘the government of the people, by the people, for the people.’ That means that, if this is not fulfilled, a government is not a democracy and it is not fulfilling the role that it should. There are numerous problems in our world right now, ranging from climate change, refugee crisis, and most recently the COVID-19 pandemic. By cooperating and listening to each other, we can find feasible and sustainable solutions.”

 

Register to attend this FREE virtual event to make connections, learn more about the initiatives that experts are planning, and discover how you can help to strengthen democracy.