Protecting Both Public Health and Civil Liberties

Part of our webcast series, "SNF Agora Conversations: The Politics and Policy of COVID-19"

Protecting both public health and civil liberties is always a balancing act—think of the ongoing and very heated debate in the United States and elsewhere between gun control and the right to bear arms. In the current pandemic crisis, how do we negotiate the tightrope walk between putting extraordinary measures in place to save lives, while also protecting individual freedoms? 


  • Danielle Allen, James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University and director of Harvard’s Edmond J.SafraCenter for Ethics, isa political theorist who has published broadly in democratic theory, political sociology, and the history of political thought. She is the author ofmany books, including Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality(2014),Education and Equality(2016), andCuz: The Life and Times of Michael A.(2017). 
  • Robert C. Liebermanis Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University. He previously served as provost of Johns Hopkins and dean of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. He has written extensively about American politics and public policy, and is the author (with Suzanne Mettler) ofFour Threats: The Recurring Crises of American Democracy,to be published by St. Martin’s Press in August 2020. 
  • Yascha Mounk, moderator, is a senior fellow with SNF Agora Institute and an associate professor of the practice at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. He is a political scientist known for his work on the rise of populism and the crisis of liberal democracy. He is a contributing editor at The Atlantic and host of The Good Fight podcast. His most recent book is The People vs Democracy: Why Our Freedom is In Danger and How to Save It (2018).  


About SNF Agora Conversations: The Politics and Policy of COVID-19

As coronavirus spreads across the country and around the globe, we are facing a crisis not just in healthcare, but also in how we live, work, learn, engage, and come together to govern ourselves as citizens and in communities.

How do the politics of the pandemic shape the way individual, communities, and institutions respond? Likewise, how does institutional and governmental response to the pandemic shape people’s political views and behaviors? Do people trust what their governments are telling them? Why are some countries controlling the spread of the virus better than others? In the U.S., how will this affect the 2020 elections? And how do we practice social distancing and also protect and promote civic engagement and inclusive discourse?

SNF Agora Institute will host a series of webcast conversations, with experts from Johns Hopkins University and beyond, that will explore the political and policy implications of COVID-19.