An international charity has given Johns Hopkins University $150 million to help start an interdisciplinary civic engagement program aimed at easing political polarization and improving discourse around a range of issues.
The Athens-based Stavros Niarchos Foundation provided the gift to help form the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University.
The institute will bring together experts and students in the fields of such as political science, psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, ethics, sociology, and history. It will hold events every year in Baltimore and Athens.
“In the U.S. and around the world, the rise in division, distrust and alienation presents a daunting and urgent challenge,” said Ron Daniels, Johns Hopkins president. “Today, cutting-edge research across a range of disciplines – coupled with a commitment to strengthen civic dialogue – can give us new insight into these trends and new opportunities for productive policymaking and problem-solving.”
The program will have 10 full-time faculty joined by 10 visiting faculty. It will also sponsor annual series focusing on specific topics. Early topics are likely to include climate change and trade-related job displacement.
“The Stavros Niarchos Foundation is committed to exploring issues that improve the functioning of civil societies today, and the connection to the Greek agora makes this particularly profound for us, since the agora was the heart of civic life, a common space for people to coexist as citizens rather than individuals” said Andreas Dracopoulos, co-president of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
The foundation will be housed in a new building on the university’s Homewood campus.