$150 million gift launches Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins

Message from President Daniels and Dean Wendland

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:

We are delighted to announce that the Stavros Niarchos Foundation has committed $150 million to establish a joint effort with Johns Hopkins University dedicated to addressing the deterioration of civic engagement worldwide and facilitating the restoration of open and inclusive discourse that is the cornerstone of healthy democracies.

The gift establishes the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University as an academic and public forum bringing together experts from fields such as political science, psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, ethics, sociology, and history. Together, they will examine the dynamics of societal, cultural, and political polarization and develop ways to improve decision making and civic discourse. They also will design and test mechanisms for strengthening democracy through dialogue and social engagement, and convene subject matter experts from a range of perspectives to explore new approaches to divisive issues.

The Agora Institute will find its home at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, its faculty joining a remarkable group of scholars devoted to creating knowledge that makes an impact on our society, at home and abroad. The institute will recruit a director and core faculty of 10, who will be joined each year by an additional 10 distinguished visiting scholars. The institute will engage graduate and undergraduate students in its work and sponsor annual public events in Baltimore and Athens, Greece. Among its programs will be an annual series examining a contested policy issue, such as climate change or trade-related job displacement. To learn more about the Agora Institute, read our Hub coverage of the gift.

Made possible by the leadership of our trustee and co-president of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Andreas Dracopoulos, the Agora Institute will continue to advance our university’s core mission, pursuing bold discovery and rigorous experimentation in service of the public good. This exceptional gift is the next chapter in an extraordinary decades-long partnership with the foundation. Support from the foundation has fueled critical research at Johns Hopkins Medicine, sustained the work of our Berman Institute of Bioethics, and recently launched the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway Film Center, transforming an iconic Baltimore theatre into a year-round venue for film and performance.

As we look ahead to this next chapter, we remain immensely grateful for Andreas’ visionary partnership and the foundation’s trust in our institution to take on great societal challenges, foster innovative ideas, and create places that inspire dialogue and animate community. We hope you share our pride and excitement as we begin this new journey.

Ronald J. Daniels

Beverly Wendland
Dean, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences