April 26 @ 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm EDT
A Community-Led Approach to Revitalizing US Democracy
Location: In Person
The Horizons Project is energized to be a part of the #ListenFirst coalition and co-host this event with Beyond Conflict and Urban Rural Action for the National Week of Conversation.
The call from all sides of the American divide is to protect and restore American democracy — but that’s where the agreement seems to end. The questions of what most threatens our democracy, which remedies for repair to deploy, and how we envision a better future continue to be politicized and divisive.
Renewed efforts to ensure free and fair elections, invest in civic education, and address issues of inequality and justice are underway in the U.S. These recommendations often target government institutions and political parties, but institutions are made up of people who are influenced and held accountable by citizens and peers. Current solutions offer little detail on how communities can organize to protect democracy and our republic here at home. With so much at stake, we need an all-hands-on-deck approach.
To think about what this approach can look like, we must first understand the factors that are contributing to the deterioration of our republic and adherence to democratic norms. Much emphasis is placed on addressing increasingly toxic levels of political polarization in the U.S. and around the world. However, more needs to be done to understand what is driving this polarization, including social identity threat and how perceived threats to one’s own group can lead to decreased tolerance and willingness to support diverse viewpoints, not only of another group, but also within one’s own community.
This event includes a listening and an interactive component. The first part will focus on a conversation between a social scientist and a social movements and peacebuilding expert. They will discuss the latest research to understand the psycho-social underpinnings of democracy and what makes individuals more likely to engage in undemocratic practice. They will also explore the pillars of support that make up authoritarian systems and how broad-based movements have combatted authoritarianism in the past in the U.S. and abroad.
After the conversational component, organizers will share Urban Rural Action’s constructive dialogue and problem tree analysis framework before breaking participants up into small groups to talk through how they are seeing authoritarianism show up in their own communities (causes and effects), as well as ways they might work with community members to push back against autocratic tendencies (solutions).
Session speakers will include:
Michelle Barsa, Director, Democracy & Social Identity Program, Beyond Conflict
Maria J. Stephan, Co-Lead and Chief Organizer, The Horizons Project