The Academy for American Democracy at the New-York Historical Society

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Civil discourse and civic engagement

Civics & Culture| Views: 1977

Civil discourse and civic engagement are key pillars of democratic societies worldwide. We aim to help create platforms for robust open discussion on important issues and to help educate active and informed citizens by supporting thoughtful models of engagement like the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University.

The SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University

Created in 2018 through a $150 million grant from SNF, the SNF Agora Institute brings together experts from political science, psychology, philosophy, and other disciplines to foster open and inclusive discourse.
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“A building that houses an institute dedicated to democracy should be open, accessible, transparent – the work is for everyone.”

Architect Renzo Piano on his SNF Agora Institute designs
SNF DIALOGUES: The power of dialogue
SNF DIALOGUES launched in 2017

SNF DIALOGUES are a series of monthly discussions on timely issues whose goal is to foster the exchange of ideas, inspire a new way of thinking and acting, and encourage and elevate public discourse across geographic boundaries.
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The SNF Paideia Program at the University of Pennsylvania

In March 2019, SNF announced a $6 million grant to the University of Pennsylvania to imagine a new paradigm for its project of educating students as whole people and citizens. The result, drawing inspiration from ancient Greece and the concept of “paideia,” which indicated the rearing and education of the ideal citizen, is the SNF Paideia Program.
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The key, I think, is to advance a robust, “muscular” notion of civility…”

Michael X. Delli Carpini, SNF Paideia Program Faculty Director
SNF Ithaca Initiative to foster civil discourse at the University of Delaware
Photo: The University of Delaware

The University of Delaware Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy & Administration has announced the launch of a new pilot program designed to incubate the foundational skills and attitudes that allow civil discourse to flourish, through a major grant from SNF: the SNF Ithaca Initiative.

The Interactive Constitution: Classroom Edition, a project with fans across the political spectrum

Can you name the three branches of the United States government? If so, you’re in the minority. The National Constitution Center wants to change that. SNF supported resources to help classrooms across America access trusted interpretation and analysis of the founding document.
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Sophocles, Bill Murray, and the discussions we need to be having
Photo: Gregg Richards

Theater of War Productions uses readings of texts, often ancient plays, by powerhouse performers as the catalyst for guided discussions on topics that are difficult but pressing for society, from racial justice, to the refugee crisis, to aging.
Q&A with Theater of War Artistic Director Bryan Doerries

Whose stories are these? Who has the right to be speaking about them? 

Bryan Doerries

Explore more grants

  • Generation Citizen wants every U.S. student to receive a useful civics education
  • Young Citizens and the Constitution, a program to help students understand government and engage in productive debate, linked with the SyntagmaWatch platform
  • The Academy for American Democracy at the New-York Historical Society uses experiential activities to help sixth-grade students learn about the history of our democracy and feel the importance of getting involved in keeping it vibrant
  • Legal Outreach offers college prep and pre-professional programming to high school students from underserved communities in New York through the framework of its new Civic Engagement and Social Justice program

Learn more about SNF’s support for creating space for robust civic life, thriving culture, and healthy democracies