Mission & Impact

The SNF Agora Institute integrates research, teaching, and practice to strengthen global democracy by improving and expanding civic engagement and inclusive dialogue, and by supporting inquiry that leads to real-world change.


 The Academic Anchor

At the heart of SNF Agora is our academic anchor, where we’ll bring together world-class researchers, from across a range of disciplines, who are thinking and teaching about the causes of the decline of democracy and identifying actionable solutions. Understanding that diversity of thought is a necessary condition for democracy, these researchers will be committed to an integrated, multidisciplinary project focused on reviving the spirit of the agora and restoring the foundations of democracy.

The Institute will hire 10 full-time faculty members who will hold tenured and endowed positions and form our academic core. Our researchers will engage in intense interaction with one another, drawing upon their respective disciplines to inform the Institute’s scholarship. They will also be integrated fully into the university, contributing to their respective academic departments and teaching both graduate and undergraduate students.

We will also be open and permeable—based at Johns Hopkins but networked with academics from across the nation and the world. Each year, we will invite 10 Distinguished Scholars from an array of fields to join the Institute on a visiting basis  to contribute to our core mission in a variety of ways. We will also create affiliations with other scholars within Johns Hopkins and with academic and other institutions around the world.


The Agora Lab

As part of identifying actionable solutions, we will need to test practical interventions bringing empirical research to bear on the core strategic questions civic and political stakeholders face in building and strengthening the modern-day agora. The Agora Lab will undertake carefully designed research studies, then partner with governments, policy leaders, civil society leaders, communities, and other stakeholders to identify challenges, and develop, prototype, and test strategies on the ground so we can learn how to put solutions into practice and understand what works in the real world.


The Agora Conversation

The SNF Agora Institute will be a forum for open and productive engagement, deliberation, and education, as well as a resource for policy makers and the broader public. The Agora Conversation represents our commitment to be in constant dialogue with the public—through symposia, conferences and workshops, lectures, author talks, and other activities—so that we can bring the best research-oriented social science into some of the most complicated and heated discussions about democracy and politics taking place around the world.

The SNF Agora Institute will be an accessible and open space, a place designed to promote dialogue, exchange, and engagement, taking on the spirit and character of its namesake—the ancient agora, where the inclusion of members of the public will be welcomed, and the free exchange of ideas from all viewpoints will be encouraged.