2018 Summer Nostos Festival: Disrupting Polarization Workshop

Event Overview

This June, as part of the Summer Nostros Festival in Athens, the SNF Agora Institute will host a workshop, Disrupting Polarization, to introduce the type of work the institute will be undertaking—from exploring the decline of modern dialogue and decision-making, to sharing lessons learned on promoting open discussion, to proposing innovative reforms to reverse the corrosive deterioration of norms. The event will bring together an international group of scholars and practitioners grappling with the problems facing modern democracy and searching for solutions in this current era of propaganda and distrust.

The day will begin by looking to the ancient past for parallels to our current crisis of democracy, and it will conclude with a conversation about innovative new venues for nurturing modern dialogue. In between, panels will probe the role education and educational institutions can and should play in bolstering civil discourse, as well as the extent to which disinformation—a widely discussed but often misunderstood phenomenon—is undermining democracy around the world.

Because this workshop is intended as an opportunity not just to share research and insights but to model what civil discourse with an engaged citizenry can look like, audience members will be encouraged to ask questions of panelists throughout the program.

The workshop is taking place as part of the SNF’s monthly series, DIALOGUES.


Watch opening remarks and panels 1 and 2 live:

Watch panels 3 and 4 and closing remarks live:

8 a.m. Welcoming Coffee
9 a.m. Introduction

  • Elizabeth Smyth, Advisor to the President on the SNF Agora Institute, Johns Hopkins University
  • Stelios Vassilakis, director of Programs and Strategic Initiatives, Stavros Niarchos Foundation
9:05 a.m. Welcoming Remarks

  • Andreas Dracopoulos, co-president and director of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation
9:10 a.m. Opening Remarks, Ronald J. Daniels, president, Johns Hopkins University
9:25-10:10 a.m. Panel 1: Disrupting Polarization: A Lesson From History – Ancient Parallels to Modern Phenomena

  • Moderator: Stelios Vassilakis, director of Programs and Strategic Initiatives, Stavros Niarchos Foundation
  • Angelos Chaniotis, faculty member, Institute for Advanced Study
  • George Th. Mavrogordatos, University of Athens (retired)
  • Lene Rubinstein, Royal Holloway, University of London
10:10-10:55 a.m. Panel 2: Disrupting Polarization: The University’s Place

  • Moderator: Ronald J. Daniels, president, Johns Hopkins University
  • Heather Gerken, dean, Yale Law School
  • Nancy Kass, vice provost for graduate and professional education, Johns Hopkins University
  • Deb Roy, director of the Laboratory for Social Machines, MIT Media Lab
10:55-11:40 a.m. Coffee Break
11:30 a.m. -12:25 p.m. Panel 3: Disrupting Polarization: Understanding Disinformation

  • Moderator: Garry Kasparov, scholar, humanitarian, and former world chess champion
  • Anne Applebaum, Washington Post columnist and professor of practice at the London School of Economics
  • Diego Ciulli, public policy manager, Google
  • Emily Falk, associate professor of communication, Annenberg School of Communication, University of Pennsylvania
  • Deb Roy, director of the Laboratory for Social Machines, MIT Media Lab
12:25-1:10 p.m. Panel 4: Disrupting Polarization: New Forums for Dialogue

  • Moderator: Bryan Doerries, artistic director, Theater of War Productions
  • Amar Bakshi, founder and creative director, Shared Studios
  • Tracey Meares, the Walton Hale Hamilton Professor of Law and a founding director of the Justice Collaboratory, Yale Law School
  • Vesla Weaver, Bloomberg Distinguished Associate Professor of Political Science and Sociology, Johns Hopkins University
1:05-1:20 p.m. Closing Remarks

Download the full program.