The Future of Democracy: A Workshop for Educators

Event Format
In person
CGIS South, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA

The end of the Cold War and related collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 seemed like a declaration of victory for democracy; in the immediate years that followed there was a flourishing of democratic growth across the globe. Today, those victory bells seem a distant memory, as an increasing number of democratic regimes face democratic erosion and backsliding, and non-democratic regimes deepen their authoritarian tendencies.

The United States, known as the cradle of democracy and once considered a beacon of democracy for the rest of the world, is not immune to this challenge. Exacerbated by a number of global phenomena—economic inequality, a global pandemic, mis/disinformation, government corruption, and more—democratic erosion is affecting nations worldwide with no clear international consensus on how to respond.

At this summer’s Global Studies Outreach workshop, we will consider the future of democracy using global case studies as well as the American comparative perspective. The following questions will guide our study of this topic:

  1. How are authoritarianism and democracy defined today? Have/how have the global conceptions and practice of democracy and authoritarianism evolved since World War II?
  2. What are some of the underlying causes of the slide into autocracy and how do they differ by nation?
    1. What role do economic systems, corporations, and economic inequality play in this narrative?
    2. What role do media and social media play in the construction of pro- and anti-democratic language and movements in the United States and abroad?
    3. How is the construction and use of the “other” a central component of authoritarianism?
  3. What are symptoms of democratic erosion? How do you recognize it and combat it? How can a well-ordered civil society reinforce democratic regimes and/or challenge authoritarian regimes?
  4. What does a resilient democracy look like? How are/can individuals and communities work together to strengthen democracy/limit authoritarianism in their own communities/nations?
  5. How can we teach about the perils of authoritarianism in a hyper-partisan environment?

Understanding the problem is just the beginning. As citizens and as educators we are an important part of the multifaceted solutions required in shaping the future of democracy and helping a generation of young people learn how to inhabit their civic duty. At our workshop, through sessions with content, policy, and pedagogy experts, we will stitch together first-hand experience, new knowledge, and diverse strategies for engagement.


This year’s workshop will take place in-person* at Harvard University from August 1 through 3, 2022. An additional full-day’s content will be offered virtually. 


The cost to attend the workshop is $75. Please note that we do not have funds to subsidize travel to the workshop. 


The application deadline for this workshop has passed. 

COVID-19 Guidance

The Global Studies Outreach Committee will follow all CDC and Harvard University guidelines for COVID-19 safety. At this point, masks, although not required, are recommended.



This workshop is organized by the Global Studies Outreach Committee, a consortium of centers at Harvard University, including the Davis Center, the Asia Center, the Center for African Studies, and the Global Health, Education and Learning Incubator. Additional program support is provided by North Shore Community College. 


The Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact us at 617-495-4037 or in advance of your participation or visit. Requests for Sign Language interpreters and/or CART providers should be made at least two weeks in advance if possible. Please note that the Davis Center will make every effort to secure services but that services are subject to availability.