Crossing Ideological Divides

Crossing Ideological Divides

Building a hub of conversation and debate

As civic engagement declines around the world, Johns Hopkins is leading a global effort to facilitate the restoration of open and inclusive discourse that is the cornerstone of healthy democracies.

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University was established in spring 2017 with a $150 million gift from its namesake foundation as an academic and public forum bringing together experts from fields such as political science, psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, ethics, sociology, and history.

The institute draws its inspiration from the agora of ancient Athens, a central space in the life of that city. Originally a marketplace, the agora became a hub of conversation and debate, and was an early manifestation of the public engagement so critical to modern democracies. It will spur robust dialogue through the work of its core faculty of 10, who will be joined each year by an additional 10 distinguished visiting scholars, and through annual public events in Baltimore and Athens, such as its governors roundtable. It will be led by acclaimed political scientist Hahrie Han.

The Renzo Piano Building Workshop firm is designing the SNF Agora Institute’s Homewood campus headquarters, which will accommodate a mix of academic and public spaces. In addition to curricular and extracurricular activities that will take place in this new building, it will host a variety of public events, including an annual conference bringing together representatives of different viewpoints to examine contested public policy issues, as well as lectures, symposiums, dinners, and performances.

Photo: Tracey Meares, Amar Bakshi, and Vesla Weaver at the Athens Agora conference