Every year, the Anxieties of Democracy program invites an internationally-renowned democracy expert to New York for a residency at the Social Science Research Council headquarters. Our Democracy Fellows help promote our mission to inform and enliven the public conversation about democracy with social science through a series of activities.  These include: public talks and debates that involve a broad and diverse audience as participants in the discussion, as well as seminars, which further open the dialogue to perspectives from a select group of the next generation of democracy scholars.

We are honored to welcome Professor Danielle Allen (James Bryant Conant University Professor and Director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University) as our 2017 Democracy Fellow. In addition to her widely-respected published works on justice, citizenship, and political equality, Allen is known for her commitment to civic engagement outside academe. Allen directs The Democratic Knowledge Project at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study, leading four research projects with social ambitions--such as increasing high-school voter turnout and guiding the production of new media platforms that can better support youth civic and political engagement and youth development of citizenly capacities.

Professor Allen will join us in November 2017. The theme of her residency is: Democracy and Justice.

Stay tuned for further announcements about our public Democracy in the City events featuring Professor Allen, via @SSRCdemocracy and Facebook.



2016 Democracy Fellow: Professor Charles Taylor

In 2016, the Council welcomed our second Democracy Fellow, Professor Charles Taylor, for a one-week residency from October 17-21. Emeritus Professor at McGill University, Charles Taylor is a world-renowned political philosopher, recognized most recently as the inaugural winner of the Berggruen Prize. Taylor's previous honors include the prestigious John W. Kluge, Templeton, and Kyoto prizes. Taylor’s philosophical approaches to the issues of modernity, democracy, equality, and inclusion in key texts such as A Secular Age (2007), Sources of the Self (1989), and Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition (1994) have transformed conceptual categories in the humanities and social sciences. Throughout his career, Taylor has exemplified the crucial civic role played by university research, entwining his theoretical approaches with political participation in several domains: from the 1960s when Taylor ran in federal elections, to his key counsel for constitutional negotiations in Canada and around the world.

The public was welcomed to two ‘Democracy in the City’ events during Professor Taylor’s residency:

On Monday, October 17, 6-7:30pm, at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College (47-49 East 65th St.): A talk by Charles Taylor, ‘Ways Democracy Can Slip Away,’ was followed by a comment and discussion led by the eminent political theorist Nancy Rosenblum, Harvard University Senator Joseph Clark Professor of Ethics in Politics and Government emerita.

On Friday, October 21, 6-8pm, at Civic Hall (156 5th Av.), we presented 'Democratic Exclusion: A Think-In in Three Acts.' This unique exploration of democratic exclusion drew on debate, and music, to inspire reflection about an urgent problem faced by democracies around the world. It featured Keesha Gaskins-Nathan, Sarah Leonard, Tova Wang, Benjamin Hochman, and a live orchestra.

We also invited local PhD candidates in the social sciences to apply for a seat in our 2016 Democracy Seminar led by Professor Taylor (cf. Call for Participants). Meeting at Council headquarters in Brooklyn, NY, the selected participants (cf. List of Participants) interrogated key texts and concepts relating to Professor Taylor’s chosen theme: ‘Some Crises of Democracy.’ The New Yorker’s Joshua Rothman also attended the seminar, featuring it in his well-circulated essay, ‘How to Restore Your Faith in Democracy’. For further information on the 2016 Democracy Seminar, click here.


2015 Democracy Fellow: Professor Pierre Rosanvallon of the Collège de France.

In 2015, the program welcomed Pierre Rosanvallon as its inaugural Democracy Fellow. We organized two public ‘Democracy in the City’ events: “Equality in a New Age of Inequalities” and “Talking About a Revolution: Rethinking Democracy in America.” We also launched our first in-house Democracy Seminar series.

Pierre Rosanvallon is Professor and Chair of Modern and Contemporary History of Politics at the Collège de France. He is also a Director of Studies at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, or School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, in Paris, and the founder of two vibrant and prestigious intellectual fora, La République des Idées (in print) and La Vie des Idées.fr (online). His work is devoted to the history of the French political model and the historical and theoretical study of changes in contemporary democracy.  

Rosanvallon is respected and renowned all over the world for the originality of his approach, which is to consider the history of democracy as the exploration of a problematic experience. His most recent book, Le bon gouvernement (Éditions du Seuil, 2015), is the fourth volume in his series on the transformations of democracy in the twenty-first century.