Hahrie Han, new SNF Agora Institute director, lays out vision for the institute during workshop in Athens

"What choices can we make now, in the 21st century, to realize democracy's promise?"


Describing the vision of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute, political scientist Hahrie Han invoked its direct inspiration: the agora of ancient Athens, a public gathering space where the ideals of modern democracy first took shape several centuries ago.

The agora was “a place where people came together—people who were different—to learn how to disagree with each other,” said Han, who was named the SNF Agora Institute’s inaugural director this spring.

“As humans, we are not born with the capacities for what it takes to engage in democratic society; but instead those capacities are cultivated,” she said. “And that’s why these [spaces] like the agora are so important to us.”

Han spoke these words, appropriately, in Athens, where the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University hosted a workshop yesterday, titled “Talking (and Listening) Across Divides,” part of the Summer Nostos Festival, an international festival organized by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation as part of its monthly DIALOGUES series.

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