Crises. Opportunities. Freedoms.

Exploring the challenges confronting modern democracies


Around the world, individuals of all ages and perspectives are questioning democracy both in principle and in practice. Democratic systems face unprecedented challenges that make it imperative that we take a fresh look—reflecting on principles and history, comparing aspirations and reality, investigating why democracy is falling out of favor, and asking what must be done if democracy is to work for everyone.

Democracy biennial logoThis critical exploration was the focus of the inaugural UVA Democracy Biennial: Crises, Opportunities, Freedoms, an innovative one-and-a-half day, free-of-charge event featuring three distinct, high-level conversations held September 24-25, 2021. 


Karsh institute of democracy logo

The UVA Democracy Biennial was a production of the University's new Karsh Institute of Democracy, an ambitious effort to build on UVA’s existing expertise in the study of democracy, public policy and leadership, and its history as a public institution founded to prepare citizens to serve a fledgling democracy.

The goal for the Biennial was straightforward and ambitious: to inspire citizens, scholars, policymakers, journalists, activists, and students to think beyond current conversations and imagine practical solutions to the most pressing challenges facing democracies across the globe. 

The University's Democracy Initiative and the Miller Center—both part of the new Institute—took the lead on programming.