Johns Hopkins University is Democracy onAir’s most recent Champion of Democracy in the US and globally.  JHU has as many quality educational, research, and service programs helping to support local, state, and federal democracies as any university in the world. These programs will be further enhanced by the new JHU School of Government and Policy that will bring together programs throughout the university to pursue evidence-based solutions to society’s greatest challenges.

Some specifically democracy-enhancing programs include:

  • The NSF Agora Institute in the Homewood campus in Baltimore “strengthening global democracy through powerful civic engagement and informed, inclusive dialogue.”
  • Special events like the annual Democracy Day offering students an introduction to the democratic process and the ways they can engage with it and the Democracy and Freedom Festival a series of events aimed at educating citizens about the importance of democracy and its essential role in advancing freedom, justice, and equality for all.


What Universities Owe Democracy
Futurism at JHU PodcastDecember 13, 2023 (42:16)

Nicholas sits down with Ron Daniels, President of Johns Hopkins University, to discuss President Daniels’ book, “What Universities Owe Democracy.” In this episode, we dive into the importance of voting and civic engagement, and the important role that scientists and engineers play in sustaining the fragile experiment that is liberal democracy.


Web Links


Democracy: The Role Our Institutions Play

March 23, 2023 (14:27)
By: Johns Hopkins University

Join the SNF Agora Institute and Hopkins at Home for a brief conversation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Johns Hopkins University President Ron Daniels about the role institutions play in supporting and strengthening democracy.

Speaker Pelosi and President Daniels will be discussing how we can bridge the gap between institutions and the citizens they represent; how we can galvanize people—especially young people—to become civically engaged; and the value of student voices in shaping the national discourse.

THE ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS DEMOCRACY AND FREEDOM FESTIVAL Celebrating the life and legacy of U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, The Elijah E. Cummings Democracy and Freedom Festival is a series of events aimed at educating citizens about the importance of democracy and its essential role in advancing freedom, justice, and equality for all. Hosted by the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins.

SNF Agora Institute faculty explore how to strengthen democracy

November 21, 2021 (04:28)
By: Johns Hopkins University

The core faculty of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute – formally installed on November 15, 2021 – will work to strengthen global democracy through powerful civic engagement and informed, inclusive dialogue. The SNF Agora building was designed by world-renowned architect Renzo Piano and is currently under construction.

Making Your Voice Count: Activism, Voting, and the Democratic Ideal

February 2, 2022 (01:01:51)

Join the SNF Agora Institute for “Making Your Voice Count: Activism, Voting, and the Democratic Ideal,” a conversation with U.S. Congressman Jamie Raskin, author of the new book, Unthinkable: Trauma, Truth, and the Trials of American Democracy. Raskin has represented Maryland’s 8th congressional district since 2017, after serving in the Maryland State Senate from 2007 to 2016. Throughout his career as a lawyer and politician, he has worked to improve representation, protect voting rights, and defend democracy. Raskin will be joined in conversation by SNF Agora Inaugural Director Hahrie Han.

Unthinkable tells the story of the 45 days at the start of 2021 that permanently changed his life—and his family’s—as he confronted the painful loss of his son to suicide, lived through the violent insurrection in our nation’s Capitol, and led the impeachment effort to hold President Trump accountable for inciting the political violence.

This is the keynote event of the second annual Elijah E. Cummings Democracy and Freedom Festival, hosted this year by the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings created the first festival in 2021 in honor of her late husband. Congressman Cummings was a staunch defender of democracy, and he used his voice to advocate tirelessly for the equal opportunity of under-represented and marginalized Americans, especially at the ballot

What Universities Owe Democracy

February 4, 2022 (01:00)
By: SNF Agora Institute

A Hub of Innovation – in the Heart of D.C. | Mike Bloomberg

November 10, 2023 (01:00)
By: Mike Bloomberg

The new Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Center is designed to foster collaboration between policymakers, faculty, and students and brings Johns Hopkins University’s world-class research and expertise to the center of Washington. It will serve as a connecting bridge between both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, and I can’t wait to see the ideas and initiatives that emerge from the leaders who will come together in this space.

Mike Bloomberg is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and three-term mayor of New York City. He serves as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions, and as WHO Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries. Bloomberg graduated from Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Business School.

Bloomberg LP, the financial technology and media company he launched in 1981, revolutionized the investment industry and now employs some 20,000 people. His foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, works to improve lives through its core focus areas: Public Health, Education, the Environment, Government Innovation, the Arts, and Founders’ Projects including the Greenwood Initiative. He also launched a series of major efforts to help fight the coronavirus in the U.S. and around the world.

Secretary of State Speaks at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Center in Washington, D.C.

September 14, 2023 (02:07)
By: Johns Hopkins University

U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke passionately and pointedly about the power and purpose of American diplomacy at a key inflection point in world history during remarks delivered Wednesday at the new Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Center at 555 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.

“One era is ending,” Blinken said, “a new one is beginning, and the decisions that we make now will shape the future.”

Video by: JHU Communications
Len Turner, Aubrey Morse, Roy Henry

Michael Bloomberg, Johns Hopkins University’s 2021 Commencement Speaker

May 27, 2021 (21:58)
By: Johns Hopkins University

SNF Agora Institute

Mission & Impact

Source: Website

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute seeks to realize the promise of the ancient agora in modern times, by strengthening opportunities for people of all backgrounds to dialogue across difference, vigorously contest values and ideas that form the foundation of pluralistic democracy, and act together to have voice in developing solutions that lead to a better world.

We are an academic and public forum that integrates research, teaching, and practice to improve and expand powerful civic engagement and informed, inclusive dialogue as the cornerstone of robust global democracy. We work by generating scholarly insights and transforming them into usable knowledge for civic and political actors who can enable real-world change.

Founded in 2017 with a visionary $150 million gift to Johns Hopkins University from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the SNF Agora Institute draws inspiration from the ancient Athenian agora, a gathering place for shared conversation, debate, and action that became the heart of democratic governance in Athens.

Our objective is to translate the best insights from academic scholarship into actionable knowledge in the real world. As we are a university-based institute, our students and faculty are our core constituencies. However, through our research, teaching, and practice, our objective is to impact people who are or will become leaders of the modern-day agora. This includes the community leaders, advocates, non-governmental organizations, party organizations, public thinkers, and arbiters of the public information sphere who are catalysts of civil society around the world, and the students at Johns Hopkins who will go on to fill those positions. These leaders of the modern agora act as intermediaries connecting people to the political process, to allow proper functioning of the norms, behaviors, and institutions that make liberal democracy possible.

We organize our work around three core functions:

  • Discovery: At the core of the SNF Agora Institute is a group of Johns Hopkins University–based scholars who will catalyze transformative, multi-disciplinary inquiry to understand democratic decline and resilience, and to identify possible interventions.
  • Design: SNF Agora scholars will collaborate with practitioners to test practical interventions and translate academic research into usable knowledge for the world.
  • Dialogue: Created as a forum for broad engagement, deliberation, and education, the SNF Agora Institute will share our work with the public through teaching, training, writing, and convening in order to strengthen citizens’ capacity for productive participation and leadership in democracy.

Democracy and Freedom Festival

Source: 2024 Festival web page

The annual Elijah E. Cummings Democracy and Freedom Festivals—”a free event brings together scholars and practitioners from across the country to join with the Johns Hopkins and Baltimore communities as we grapple with some of the most urgent challenges facing democracy, model civic engagement across divides, and celebrate democratic resilience and opportunity”.

Democracy Days

Democracy Day 2023

For most Johns Hopkins undergraduates, the college experience is filled with a long list of firsts—including the first election in which they are eligible to vote. With that in mind, JHU held its third annual Democracy Day on Saturday, offering students an introduction to the democratic process and the ways they can engage with it.

Much of this year’s programming focused on the problems facing democracy, a theme JHU President Ron Daniels echoed in his opening remarks.”Liberal democracy … is not a self-executing endeavor,” he said. “We have seen time and time again throughout history that it can be derailed through apathy and indifference on the one hand, and nativism and fear on the other. For democracy to survive and to thrive, it must always be re-examined, re-energized, and renewed by lawyers, historians, philosophers, elected officials, and organizers.

Democracy Day 2022

Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott, university President Ron Daniels, and expert faculty discuss the value of democracy, as well as threats to it. ‘Young people are not just our future, but our right now’.

Opening remarks were followed by the pop-up seminars where leading scholars from around the university addressed the common theme of “What is a leading challenge to democracy?” Seminar leaders included Krieger School of Arts and Sciences Dean Chris Celenza; Beth Blauer, associate vice provost for public sector innovation; Odis Johnson, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of social policy and STEM equity; and Lilliana Mason, an associate professor of political science. Students attended up to three seminars on topics such as election security, gerrymandering, the negative impact of two-party politics on women, K-12 gaps in preparing students for good citizenship, and more.

The day ended with a Democratic and Civic Engagement Fair, where local neighborhood associations and organizations, such as the Charles Village Civic Association and Black Girls Vote, shared engagement opportunities to students. Johns Hopkins Center for Social Concern student organizations and civic engagement programs, including Hop Help Tutoring, the Tutorial Project, and the Charm City Science League, which work with Baltimore City school students, were also on hand to share their opportunities for engagement with student attendees.

Democracy Day 2021

Participants in Johns Hopkins University’s inaugural Democracy Day learn about the role of a university in a democratic society and the value of free inquiry, civic engagement.

Johns Hopkins University hosted its first ever Democracy Day on Saturday, Aug. 28, an event designed to prompt students—first- and second-year students in particular—to think critically about the political world they inhabit and their own rights and responsibilities as citizens and democratic actors.

University Debate Initiative

Source: JHU Webpage

Americans are losing the ability to talk to each other, especially when they disagree. This is happening on university campuses, too, where experts say students increasingly are drawn to professors, speakers, and fellow students who have similar backgrounds and views, and are failing to learn how to engage productively with opposing voices.

To that end, the SNF Agora Institute’s university debate initiative aims to model the habits and virtues of reasoned debate across different perspectives, and the possibilities for finding common ground amid disagreement.

The debate initiative will host a pair of marquee moderated debates each year that bring to the university major speakers, such as public intellectuals, former government officials, and media personalities. The program will also fund and support a number of additional debates organized by students each semester, to enable healthy debate to be a recurring feature of campus life.

Dialogue and Debate Director

The initiative is being led by Louise Flavahan, our new dialogue and debate director, who will work in close partnership with a student committee to carry out a series of debates over the course of each academic year. Flavahan will guide students directly involved in the initiative and teach the values and methods of debate more broadly across the university.

Debate Initiative Student Committee

The Hopkins Student Organization for Programming (“the HOP”) will convene the new student committee, which will identify and select debate topics and speakers. This primarily student committee will comprise 5-7 JHU students, a Center for Social Concern staff adviser, and a faculty adviser.

School of Government and Policy

Announcement – Oct. 6, 2023

Source: Hub Staff Report

Johns Hopkins University, America’s first research university, will launch a School of Government and Policy in its new home, the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Center at 555 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., the university announced today.

The School of Government and Policy will build on the foundation of the university’s nearly 150 years of leadership in research and discovery, while drawing on existing complementary strengths in science and technology, medicine and public health, and international affairs to research and develop innovative, data-driven solutions for contemporary policy challenges and effective government.

The school will prepare the next generation of leaders and public servants to pursue evidence-based solutions to society’s greatest challenges through an approach that:

  • Embeds science, data, and the role and impact of technology in the curricula
  • Gives students the tools they need to think strategically and creatively about policy and government innovations designed to meet the needs of the people and communities they serve
  • Emphasizes the urgent need for cross-functional skills and capabilities at all levels of government and in bridging public, non-profit, and industry sectors

“Anchored in our magnificent new home in the nation’s capital, the School of Government and Policy will bring novel expertise and insight informed by large-scale data sets to shape policy and address the challenges facing our nation and world,” Johns Hopkins University President Ron Daniels said. “This new school will draw on our university’s existing strengths in international studies, public health, medicine and life sciences, and engineering and technology and offer a different approach to the work of government and policy, one that can help rebuild confidence in our institutions and advance new and needed approaches for more effective government.”

By establishing this new division, Johns Hopkins will scale its proven ability to leverage the critical insights and advances that arise from academic investigation to help governments, policymakers, and their partners in other arenas, to respond to rapidly evolving public needs and keep pace with scientific and technological change.

Johns Hopkins has a long-established presence in Washington policy circles through its celebrated School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), leadership in biomedical research, and longstanding government partnerships, anchored by JHU’s status as the federal government’s largest academic research partner for 43 consecutive years and complemented by major government collaborations with the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Applied Physics Laboratory, and many other divisions of the university.

“A new School of Government and Policy at the Hopkins Bloomberg Center will unquestionably bolster the university’s impact on policy change and decision-making at the federal level,” said Keshia Pollack Porter, chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School. “Our department has deep experience translating research to policy in areas such as drug pricing and access to pharmaceuticals, addiction and overdose, and gun violence. The new school will undoubtedly create opportunities for our faculty to further lean into advocating for and implementing policies that can improve the public’s health and advance health equity. I am excited for opportunities for our faculty, staff, and students to partner with the new school around research, practice, and education in support of effective and impactful policy change.”

Bloomberg Center

Source: JHU Washington DC

The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Center pairs the power of nearly 150 years of research leadership with a deep commitment to democracy and government innovation in a vibrant new convening space. The majestic building features modern, configurable spaces that will heighten collaboration between trusted academic experts, global leaders and policymakers, and the next generation of innovators and leaders.

This is where students and faculty transform knowledge into impact, and where cutting-edge research informs evidence-based policies to benefit global democracy and the future of our world.


Johns Hopkins University has built a new permanent home in Washington, D.C., to deepen its commitment to delivering evidence-based research to fuel discovery, democracy, and global dialogue. Building on Johns Hopkins’ history as the nation’s first research university, the Hopkins Bloomberg Center will serve as a nexus for trusted academic experts, global leaders, policymakers, and students to provide multidisciplinary expertise and objectivity to decision-makers while educating future civic leaders.


Bridging the Worlds of Research & Policy

The Johns Hopkins University brings 150 years of research and discovery to Pennsylvania Avenue, where our expertise and pioneering research will inform evidence-based policymaking worldwide. We are committed to strengthening global democracy through discovery, education, dialogue, and public service.


Educating & Training Future Leaders

By offering world-class academic experiences grounded in real-time collaboration, discovery, and the principles of democracy, we cultivate the skills our students need to lead communities, corporations, countries, and each other.


A Convening Space Serving Students, Researchers, and Policymakers

State-of-the-art facilities offer dynamic learning experiences and adapt to emerging disciplines. Configurable spaces mean we can explore creative ways to gather and exchange ideas—with each other and the public.


Expanding the Impact of Our Renowned Research and Education

Uniting our nine academic programs at the Johns Hopkins University building at 555 Pennsylvania Ave. begins a new chapter in our legacy of profound collaboration and path-breaking research. Sharing common space inspires creativity and energizes approaches to apply our integrated expertise to the biggest challenges.


Collaborative Solutions to Global Challenges and Opportunities for Innovation

Johns Hopkins in D.C. is a model for how we can work together to understand the complexity of our world and advance societies around the globe. It’s where policymakers, newsmakers, and leaders collaborate with our faculty and students on evidence-based solutions to pressing global challenges and opportunities for innovation.


The Epicenter of the Nation’s Corridor of Power

In a location steeped in America’s history, linking all three branches of the federal government, our students, faculty, and alumni are surrounded by the people and opportunities that can transform their knowledge into impact. This iconic location positions Johns Hopkins as a convener, a conversation starter, and a hub for collaboration.

Bloomberg Center Offerings

Find an Expert

Johns Hopkins University experts can provide the perspective and analysis reporters need to cover the news. If you can’t find an expert in this guide, please contact the university’s media relations office at or 443-997-9009.
Home > Faculty Experts Guide > Topics > Democracy

Calendar of Events

Signature series and forums hosted at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Center create strategic connections between policymakers, faculty, researchers, and students. Join us for fireside chat conversations about topics of national concern such as public health policy and international security. Events feature an interdisciplinary group of Johns Hopkins experts who provide up-to-the-minute insights and analysis followed by real-time Q&A, to inform discussions on the Hill and beyond.

Congressional Briefing Series

The Johns Hopkins Congressional Briefing Series allows policymakers, their staff, and members of the public to gain up-to-the-minute insights and analysis from Johns Hopkins experts. Every other month, faculty experts provide a timely briefing on a policy topic with opportunity for real-time Q&A. The series is jointly organized by the Office of Federal Strategy and the Office of Interdisciplinary Initiatives.

Authors & Insights

Authors & Insights is a series of in-depth conversations with some of today’s most compelling authors and thinkers exploring the issues that matter most in our world. Conversations take place at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Center.

The John Hopkins Briefing

In this series, experts provide timely analysis and insights about topics of national and global importance and engage in real-time Q&A with the audience. The Office of Interdisciplinary Initiatives hosts the series.

Health Policy Forum

The Johns Hopkins Health Policy Forum is a quarterly series featuring conversations with leaders who address the most pressing challenges in the development or implementation of health policy.

The series is jointly hosted by the Bloomberg School of Public Health, the School of Nursing, the Carey Business School, and Johns Hopkins Medicine. The forum provides an opportunity for Johns Hopkins faculty, students, and operational experts to engage with policy makers and explore contemporary health policy approaches.

Advanced Academic Programs (AAP)

Source: Website

Johns Hopkins University’s Advanced Academic Programs division opened its fall 2023 term in the state-of-the-art Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Center at 555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Designed to promote academic innovation and foster collaboration and community, the Washington, D.C., center presents new opportunities for research, learning, and public engagement, offering a distinctive Johns Hopkins experience in the heart of the nation’s capital.

The Hopkins Bloomberg Center brings together AAP graduate students and faculty, and individuals from across the institution, to integrate the university’s shared knowledge and allow for interdisciplinary collaboration. Its location—just minutes from a host of vital national and international institutions—positions the JHU community to contribute to global conversations in new and meaningful ways.

With 38 high-tech classrooms, a 375-seat theater, versatile study spaces, and ample venues to relax and recharge, the 420,000-square-foot building presents an unparalleled opportunity for innovation, creativity, and the exchange of ideas—not just in the classroom, but also through events and conferences that connect JHU to the community at large.​

In-Person AAP Graduate Programs in D.C.


More Programs

JHU Department of Political Science

Source: Website

The Department of Political Science at the Johns Hopkins University Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences provides graduate and undergraduate training in American politics and law, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory.

Its programs are well suited to students who seek rigorous training, pursue large questions about politics, and aspire to develop strength in more than one field. The department offers a graduate program leading to the PhD, as well as a distinct undergraduate  major in political science.

Bloomberg Center for Public Innovation

Source: Website

The Bloomberg Center for Public Innovation is a joint effort between Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg Philanthropies aimed at improving the effectiveness of local governments around the world.

  • Mission: Advance public sector innovation by combining practical solutions with academic research.
  • Goal: Transform the way governments function, improve results for residents, and build trust in public service.
  • Activities:
    • Partnering with city governments on the Innovation Team program to address their specific challenges.
    • Conducting research to develop new solutions and measure their effectiveness.
    • Providing resources and training to public servants.

Bloomberg Center for Government Excellence

Source: Webiste

Mission Statement

The Bloomberg Center for Government Excellence (GovEx) at Johns Hopkins University supports and coaches leaders and their teams to build a data-driven public sector that fairly and justly uses data, research, and analytics to better understand complex issues, engage residents, and implement policy interventions that lead to equitable outcomes and transforms the standard of living for underserved residents.

Equity Commitment

GovEx is dedicated to addressing structural inequities by examining how implicit biases impact data analysis, performance management and data governance. In centering racial equity throughout our core operations and service delivery model, we are committed to becoming an anti-racist organization and recognize the public sector’s role in perpetuating these legacies over time. We commit to addressing them today.

Hopkins Votes

Source: Website

Johns Hopkins University takes seriously its obligation to cultivate active and engaged citizens. Hopkins Votes provides resources and guidance to help JHU students and employees participate in the democratic process.

Hopkins Votes is a nonpartisan initiative that provides voter assistance and education to Johns Hopkins University faculty, staff, students, and the wider community. We are committed to facilitating access to the electoral process for all eligible voters, regardless of an individual’s political affiliation, location, voting method, or registration status.

School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)

Source: Website

The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) mission is:

to provide an interdisciplinary professional education for the next generation of global leaders; and to foster scholarship and public engagement which contribute to addressing the pressing international challenges of the 21st century.

The school was founded in 1943 by Paul H. Nitze and Christian A. Herter, statesmen who sought to prepare the next generation of leaders to meet the complex challenges the U.S. and the world would face following World War II. A distinguished faculty of scholars and policy experts developed an innovative curriculum that emphasized international politics, economics, and foreign languages. That program, combined with skills training and experiential learning, helped prepare students to make a difference in government, civil society, and the private sector.

Today, SAIS carries on this tradition. Johns Hopkins SAIS alumni number more than 20,000 graduates, a network of professionals working across the globe. From private-sector executives to entrepreneurs, leaders of nongovernmental organizations to ambassadors, and international media correspondents to energy consultants, SAIS alumni are defined by their innovative thinking, analytical approach, and policy expertise. They are leaders in their fields, life-long students committed to the betterment of the world.