Global Youth Activism Amidst Democratic Decay

Democracy Moves' Second Annual Conference
  • 11:00-15:00 ET each day (08:00 San Francisco, 12:00 São Paulo, 15:00 GMT, 16:00 Lagos, 18:00 Nairobi)


Conference Overview:

For the second year, Democracy Moves, an international coalition of youth activists across the world focused on improving democratic conditions in their respective communities, will hold a multi-day virtual convening. We will gather hundreds of youth activists and scholars from around the world over three days to showcase organizational leaders who work with youth activists, young people themselves, and scholars focused on effective examples of youth activism.  The conference will be in English but offer Spanish translation services. 

To register, click here or on any of the events below. 

Click to download the Conference Speakers overview or Conference Schedule. You can also download the documents below. 


Additional Information

The Scholars Network is co-organized by the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University and the Research Hub for Youth Organizing at University of Colorado Boulder.


Navigating the Youth Turn in Taiwan’s Labor Politics

An SNF Agora Case Study

Cover of "Youth Turn in Taiwan Labor Politics" case studyFaced with limited resources, how can a youth-focused labor NGO support young workers who need help now while also building long-term organizing power?      

[Download Case Study Below]

This case study focuses on the Youth Labor Union 95 (YLU95), a labor NGO based in Taipei, Taiwan. When it was founded in 2008, YLU95 initially offered legal support to youth who were struggling with work-related issues. But the group faced challenges to its larger strategic efforts to organize workers around issues particularly relevant to young people, including youth poverty, holiday work, minimum wage violations, and insurance evasion. Recognizing that their legal casework did not give young workers an opportunity to form broader connections and build a sense of camaraderie with the greater labor movement, the YLU95 faced a choice-point in determining a new strategy to address the general lack of collective identity among young workers in Taipei.

This case is appropriate for:

  • High school, college, and graduate students
  • Community and youth organizers
  • Labor organizers and union leaders
  • Civil society leaders

By the end of this case study, you should be able to:

  1. Appreciate the importance and distinctiveness of youth issues in labor politics.
  2. Understand the unique challenges of organizing young workers in particular.
  3. Understand the function of identity construction in a sustainable, effective youth movement
  4. Identify examples of effective organizing on university campuses.

Download "Navigating the Youth Turn in Taiwan’s Labor Politics"

Please fill in the information below to download the requested case study. The SNF Agora Institute collects this information to better understand our audience so we can improve our case studies in the future. We do not sell, rent, share, or otherwise willfully disclose to any third party, email addresses or other personally identifiable information shared on this site, in accordance with the Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Privacy Statement for Websites and Mobile Applications. If you have feedback about this case study or suggestions for future cases, please email us at

Mapping the Modern Agora

Using computational social science tools to develop an open source framework for mapping civic spaces in the United States

A democracy is only as strong as its agora. The agora-like spaces that constitute civil society create opportunities for people to cultivate the capacities needed for self-governance. In modern America, however, the agora has eroded. Most people lack opportunities to engage with each other in the processes of power-sharing, deliberation, and contestation that make pluralistic democracy possible. Our culture of democracy is emaciated. Worse, efforts to renew and reform the agora are hindered by our inability to see the landscape of modern civic life. Without that big picture, reforms cannot be strategically identified or targeted.

Mapping the Modern Agora, incubated by the SNF Agora Institute, integrates big data on civil society organizations to map the modern agora at scale. Just as mapping the human genome enabled biologists to uncover insights about the human body, this civic genome will enable us to pinpoint areas of civic vulnerability and direct resources to strengthen the shared culture needed to make democracy work.

Project Goals:

  • Create a comprehensive map of the civic life in our communities by delineating, at scale, the individual civic spaces people have the opportunity to inhabit, including but not limited to, libraries, non-profit organizations, churches, civic networks, community-based organizations, and parks. In short, we seek to map all the civic spaces that make up the modern agora.
  • Develop a more coherent classification scheme for civil society than currently exists. Even as we develop a picture of the whole, we need to understand how the individual units are similar to or different from each other and how they relate.
  • Develop new lines of research and inquiry that can emerge from creating a picture of the whole. By developing a map of the modern agora, our hope is not only to solve the descriptive challenge, but also to develop lines of scholarly inquiry that previously have not been possible.

Over the long term, we aspire to map not only the geographic aspects of civil society, but also the digital ones. Our hope is that this can become a tool for researchers and practitioners to better understand, make sense of, and invest in strengthening civic spaces in modern democracies.

Mapping the Modern Agora Team:

  • Hahrie Han is an internationally recognized scholar on civil society and democratic revitalization. She is the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Professor of Political Science, inaugural director of the SNF Agora Institute, and faculty director of the P3 Lab.
  • Milan de Vries is an associate research scholar at the SNF Agora Institute and former director of analytics at, where he revolutionized the use of data to advance grassroots organizing and influence civic behavior. De Vries holds a PhD in biology from MIT, where he witnessed the bioinformatics revolution and developed skills to transfer those insights to civic data.
  • Jae Yeon Kim is a PhD candidate in political science and a D-Lab senior data science fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, and a postdoctoral fellow at the P3 Lab. Kim studies political learning, organizing, and mobilization among marginalized populations using data science. Kim also builds tools that make social science research more efficient and reproducible.

Uniting for Action on the Maryland Economy to launch statewide in September

Non-partisan, grassroots initiative aims to build relationships across divides and tackle economic challenges across the state

Civic and business organizations are teaming up this fall to launch Uniting for Action on the Maryland Economy, a nine-month program to build new community relationships across divides and tackle economic challenges through collaboration. The program will be implemented collectively by the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, the Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University, and national non-profit Urban Rural Action
Uniting for Action on the Maryland Economy aims to achieve several goals: build new connections among Marylanders across geographic, political, racial, and other divides, strengthen individual collaboration skills, tackle local and state economic challenges, contribute to improved civic health, and make democratic participation of ordinary Marylanders possible, probable, and powerful. The program builds on a pilot initiative implemented in 2020 by the Washington County Chamber of Commerce and Urban Rural Action.

Continue reading on Urban Rural Action’s website.

SNF Agora Institute Awards 10 Faculty Grants

The $5,000–$20,000 grants will fund faculty from across Johns Hopkins University pursuing research and other projects—including workshops, public convenings, and an art installation—that explore threats to global democracy.

The SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University has awarded its first-ever SNF Agora Faculty Grants, which will fund 10 projects during the 2021-2022 academic year.

The grants, which were awarded to faculty from the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Advanced International Studies, and the School of Education, will fund research and other activities, including an art installation, video projects, and the creation of an interdisciplinary lab focused on public ethnography.

The projects will explore a range of topics related to civic engagement and global democracy, including civic engagement in foreign policy, the Green New Deal, the recent incidents of gendered Asian hate crimes, U.S. immigration policy at the U.S.-Mexican border, and the participation of incarcerated citizens in democracy.

“We are delighted to announce the recipients of SNF Agora’s new Faculty Grants program,” says SNF Agora Inaugural Director Hahrie Han. “This program will allow for Johns Hopkins faculty to pursue innovative approaches to address public problems and will amplify uncommon perspectives on issues plaguing democracies today. We look forward to the many ways these projects will advance the mission and work of the SNF Agora Institute.”

Launched in fall 2020, the SNF Agora Faculty Grants program was established to support and amplify faculty work that is complementary to the institute’s mission. By providing grants, SNF Agora aims to foster interdisciplinary collaborations across and the university and support SNF Agora efforts to reinvigorate global democracy and the civic spaces that fuel it.

As a part of this newly established program, SNF Agora will accept applications for faculty grants annually. Applicants can propose new projects or seek funding to supplement ongoing projects that are closely connected to SNF Agora’s mission. If you are interested in applying for an AY 2022-2023 Faculty Grant, please visit in the SNF Agora website in January 2022 for additional details.

The recipients of the 2021-2020 SNF Agora Faculty Grants are:

“Building Anti-Racist Coalitions and Intersectional Knowledge in the Face of Anti-Asian Violence” will address gendered anti-Asian violence and will seek to create an anti-racist community at Johns Hopkins and in the surrounding community by offering public-facing programs, building anti-racists coalitions, and cultivating relationships with community partners.

  • Erin Chung, Associate Professor of East Asian Politics, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences
  • Clara Han, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of Graduate Studies, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences
  • H. Yumi Kim, Assistant Professor of History, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

“Communities Affected by Anti-Black Racism Discuss Democracy in Maryland, D.C., and Liberia” is a video project that will explore barriers to democratic participation in communities impacted by Anti-Blackness through dialogue.

“Democracy Confined: Using the American Prison Writing Archive to Understand Civic Exclusion and the Lived Experience of Democracy” will consist of a series of events and trainings centered around the American Prison Writing Archive and the democratic participation of incarcerated citizens.

  • Stuart Schrader, Lecturer and Assistant Research Scientist, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences
  • Vesla Weaver, Bloomberg Distinguished Associate Professor of Political Science and Sociology, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

“Democracy in Translation, Translation as Democracy” will be a collaborative workshop that invites international scholars to explore how to broaden and refine the concept of democracy to includes it various iterations across the globe.

  • Satoru Hashimoto, Assistant Professor of Comparative Thought and Literature, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

“Establishing a Public Ethnography Lab at Johns Hopkins University” will establish an interdisciplinary ethnography lab at Hopkins. It will also offer a series of public virtual seminars featuring experts in public ethnography and will culminate in a graduate workshop in spring 2022.

  • Anand Pandian, Professor of Anthropology and Department Chair, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

“A Green Deal in Red States? The Politics of Energy Transition in Rural America” will conduct research on the politics behind a green energy transition in rural America and offer a public forum on the “Green New Deal” for the Hopkins community.

  • Michael Levien, Associate Professor of Sociology, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

“Hostile Terrain 94” will bring “HTP4,” an art installation illustrating the impact of U.S. immigration policy at the U.S. Mexico border, to the Milton S. Eisenhower Library in fall 2021.

  • Alessandro Angelini, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences
  • Sanchita Balachandran, Associate Director of Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum and Senior Lecturer, Department of Near Eastern Studies, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

“Intellectual Humility, Mutual Recognition, and Democratic Expression” will include two public workshops to explore the question, “How to build into religion and politics the practice of intellectual humility without asking the believer, scientist, or citizen to sacrifice their most deeply held commitments?”

  • Dean Moyar, Professor of Philosophy and Director of Graduate Studies, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

“Mobilizing Against the Odds” will consist of research, academic articles, public commentary, and a workshop on civic engagement in foreign policy and the challenges of democratizing foreign policy decision-making.

  • Nina Hall, Assistant Professor of International Relations, School of Advanced International Studies

“Race of the Invisible Color Lines” will establish a new undergraduate sociology course that will examine the Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) movement and will be available beginning in spring 2022.

  • Huei-Ying Kuo, Associate Research Professor of Sociology, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Vote16USA’s Campaign to Lower the Voting Age in San Francisco

An SNF Agora Case Study

How can a youth-led movement keep its passion and idealism while also incorporating the expertise and experience of professional political consultants?

[Download Case Study Below]

This case study explores challenges that emerged for a coalition of high school–aged activists involved in the Vote16SF campaign, a movement to lower the voting age in San Francisco. This activist group, led by young people, sought to balance the passion and idealism of its convictions with the need to convince a plurality of (mostly older) voters to support an initiative that they initially viewed with skepticism. Striking that balance raises important questions about how to preserve and elevate the voice and authenticity of the people most affected by policy decisions while also taking advantage of the acquired political expertise and experience of professional political consultants.

This case is appropriate for:

  • High school, college, and graduate students
  • Youth organizers
  • Policymakers

By the end of this case study, you should be able to:

  1. Gain an understanding of the tension in movements between the ideals of their leaders and the practical realities of political change.
  2. Explore specifically the tension between the voices and techniques of grassroots campaigners
    and those of experienced campaign professionals.
  3. Analyze the tradeoffs that youth-led campaigns face between youth energy and voice and
    professional campaign experience.
  4. Learn what questions to explore, before accepting campaign funding from a particular source and on particular terms, about how that funding might impact the goals and structure of the campaign.

Download "Vote16USA’s Campaign to Lower the Voting Age"

Please fill in the information below to download the requested case study. The SNF Agora Institute collects this information to better understand our audience so we can improve our case studies in the future. We do not sell, rent, share, or otherwise willfully disclose to any third party, email addresses or other personally identifiable information shared on this site, in accordance with the Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Privacy Statement for Websites and Mobile Applications. If you have feedback about this case study or suggestions for future cases, please email us at

Brandon Klugman

Associate Director of Campaigns, Generation Citizen

Brandon Klugman is the associate director of campaigns at Generation Citizen, where he leads the Vote16USA campaign to support youth-led advocacy to lower the voting age to 16. He joined Generation Citizen in 2015 to help launch Vote16USA. In the years since, Klugman has partnered with youth activists to lead advocacy campaigns in multiple states and has helped build support for the policy idea on a national level.

Bonnie Jin

Research Assistant, SNF Agora Institute

Bonnie Jin is a Boston-based student of International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. Her current work with progressive campaigns bridges the gap between foreign policy and local intercultural needs. As former executive director of European Horizons, an international student-led policy incubator, she strives to amplify the voices of students and to use research to improve public policy.

She is a 2015 recipient of the U.S. Department of State’s Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Scholarship and 2018 recipient of the U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. Her experience in political communications and policy research spans the U.S., Asia, and Europe. You can find her at

Jordie Davies

Postdoctoral Fellow

Jordie Davies (PhD, political science, UChicago 2021) is a postdoctoral scholar at the P3 Lab at the SNF Agora Institute.

Davies’ research and writing interests include Black politics and political thought, US social movements, and Black feminism. Her research agenda focuses on the influence of social movements on political attitudes, activism, and political participation.

Davies’ dissertation, “From Adherents to Activists: The Process of Social Movement Mobilization” examines social movement support and participation at the aggregate and local levels, breaking down the various paths to political activism in contemporary progressive and racial justice movements, especially the Black Lives Matter movement.

Davies’ research has been supported by the Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship and Berkeley’s Center on Democracy and Organizing. She has been awarded the Ford Foundation Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, the Diversifying Faculty in Illinois Fellowship, and the APSA Minority Fellows Grant.

For more of Davies work, check out her website or follow her on Twitter.


Dawn Teele

Associate Research Professor

Dawn Teele will initially join the institute as an Associate Research Professor in SNF Agora and the Department of Political Science. Her research interests include women and politics specifically related the causes and consequences of voting rights reform; candidate socialization, recruitment, and election; incumbency and gender; democratization and economic development; methodology and field experiments.    

Teele has won several prizes, including the Carrie Chapman Catt Prize for the study of women in politics and the Gabriel Almond Prize from the American Political Science Association. Her research has been published in a variety of outlets in political science, including the American Political Science Review, the Journal of Politics, and Politics & Society. She is editor of a volume on social science methodology, Field Experiments and Their Critics  (Yale University Press 2014), and co-editor of an edited volume that is currently in progress, Good Reasons to Run: Women and Political Candidacy. In 2020, Professor Teele won the Gregory Luebbert prize for the best book in Comparative Politics, from the American Political Science Association for Forging the Franchise: The Political Origins of the Women’s Vote (Princeton University Press, 2018).

She holds a BA in economics from Reed College, and a PhD in political science from Yale University.