2023 Denver Democracy Summit

The Josef Korbel School of International Studies is pleased to announce that the 3rd Annual Denver Democracy Summit will be held October 25-26, 2023 on the University of Denver campus with proceedings streamed to a worldwide virtual audience. The Denver Democracy Summit will serve as a platform for the DU community and the world’s leading thought leaders on democracy to evaluate ongoing efforts to strengthen democratic norms, values, and institutions. The Summit will include discussions on democratic backsliding, political communication and misinformation, polarization and civil discourse, technology and democracy, and other topics. 


Stream here or watch on our YouTube channel!

October 26, 2023

Please note that the times listed in MDT are approximate and are subject to change.

Day 1: October 25, 2023 (6:00pm-7:15pm)

  • What's the Matter with American Democracy? Featuring Jamelle Bouie

    Overview: The Center on American Politics, the Estlow International Center for Journalism and New Media, and the Josef Korbel School of International Studies are thrilled to kick-off the 2023 Denver Democracy Summit with New York Times opinion columnist Jamelle Bouie for a vital discussion about the history and current health of American democracy. Bouie’s work provides unique insight on the past, present, and future of our national politics, policy, and the state of race relations.

    Speaker: Jamelle Bouie, NYT Columnist

    Moderator: Seth Masket, Professor and Director, Center on American Politics

Day 2: October 26, 2023 (8:30am-5:30pm)

  • 8:30 AM | Registration

    Check-in at the registration desk or settle in front of your device. Beverages and pastries will be available for our in-person audience. 

  • 9:00 AM | Welcome from Dean Fritz Mayer

    Overview: Hear from Korbel School Dean Fritz Mayer about the 2023 Denver Democracy Summit theme: Democracy Renewed & Reimagined, and how the Josef Korbel School of International Studies is working to catalyze public discourse and research to respond to the challenges facing democracies around the world and build a stronger, more democratic future.

  • 9:10 AM | Keynote Conversation: Hon. Naheed Farid

    Speaker: Naheed Farid is a Human Rights Defender, Afghanistan Parliamentarian in-exile, Chairperson of the House Standing Committee for Women Affairs, a Professional Specialist at Princeton University School of Public and International Affairs-APL, and Advisory Board Member of the US-Afghanistan Democratic Peace and Prosperity Council. Elected to Parliament in 2010 as the youngest-ever elected politician and lawmaker in Afghanistan, Naheed has worked tirelessly to engage Afghan youth and women in the nation's political process. She is a George Washington University Alumni, Forbes Magazine Awardee, a Model Citizen of Grassroot-Diplomat Magazine, and an Italian Distinctive Brave-Knight Medalist.

    Moderator: Micheline Ishay, Professor; Director of the Center for Middle East Studies, Josef Korbel School of International Studies

  • 9:35 AM | State of Democracy in the World

    Overview: In recent years, there has been a visible decline in democracy and freedom across the world. Populist leaders have risen to power on anti-democratic and exclusionary agendas, populations have become more polarized and increasingly skeptical of the ability of democratic institutions to meet contemporary policy challenges, and a resurgence of military coups threatens the rights, freedoms, and security of people in some of the world’s most vulnerable areas. This panel of experts will provide an overview of the current wave of democratic backsliding: when it began, where it is happening, how it is impacting populations, where democracy is proving more resilient, and what can be done to address it.

    Speakers: Staffan I Lindberg, Director, V-Dem Institute, University of Gothenburg; Adrian Shahbaz, Vice President of Research and Analysis, Freedom House 

    Moderator: Rachel Sigman, Assistant Professor, Josef Korbel School of International Studies 

  • 10:35 AM | Advancing the Democratic Use of Emerging Technology

    Overview: Technology can be a tool for strengthening democratic participation and spreading democratic values, but it can also be a vehicle for spreading misinformation and bias and tightening autocratic rule. Panelists will discuss the governance of emerging technology and what systems and institutions can best enhance the prospect for the democratic use and operation of technology as it appears on the world stage.

    Speakers: Ethan Chumley, Director of Critical Institution Security, Microsoft Democracy Forward Initiative; Swati Srivastava, Visiting Scholar, Harvard Institute for Rebooting Social Media

    Moderator: Deborah Avant, Sié Chéou-Kang Chair for International Security and Diplomacy, Josef Korbel School of International Studies 

  • 11:15 AM | Free and Fair Elections and Strong Democracies

    Overview: Elections are the gateway to democracy and the foundation for solid democratic systems. This panel will discuss efforts to protect election integrity in the United States and throughout the world, and strategies for expanding voter participation and access for future generations.

    Speakers: Amber Faye McReynolds, Governor for the U.S. Postal Service; Jena Griswold, CO Secretary of State; Seema ShahHead of International IDEA's Democracy Assessment Unit; and Tim Sisk, Professor, Josef Korbel School of International Studies

    Moderator: Matthew Kaminski, Editor-in-Chief, Politico

  • 11:55 AM | The Case for Democracy

    Overview: Societies around the world face an array of complex challenges posed by a changing climate, rising inequality, and evolving threats to security and human rights. Drawing on findings from the V-Dem Institute’s Case for Democracy Report, this session will explore how democracies have performed in addressing these challenges, how they compare to authoritarian governments, and the types of reforms that could strengthen democratic responses to the world’s most pressing challenges.

    Speaker: Staffan I Lindberg, Director, V-Dem Institute, University of Gothenburg

    Moderator: Rachel Sigman, Assistant Professor, Josef Korbel School of International Studies 

  • 12:00 PM | Lunch

    Box lunch and networking for in-person attendees.

    The virtual audience will be able to view the Climate Change: Opportunities and Challenges for Democracies session at this time.

  • 12:00 PM | Climate Change: Opportunities and Challenges for Democracies (*virtual)

    Overview: Climate change is a global crisis with clear scientific steps to reduce worsening impact. However, the ability of democracies worldwide to address and respond to the challenge is mixed. This expert panel will discuss the challenges and opportunities for democracies around the world as they strive towards controlling greenhouse gas emissions and maintaining stability in the face of extreme environmental stress.

    Speakers: Ann Florini, Fellow at the New America Political Reform Program; Daniel Lindvall, Uppsala University; Fritz Mayer, Dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies; and David Orr, Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics Emeritus

    Moderator: Jonathan Moyer, Assistant Professor; Director of the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures, Josef Korbel School of International Studies

  • 1:00 PM | Keynote Conversation: Ambassador Markarova and Senator Bennet (*virtual)

    Overview:  Ukrainian Ambassador Markarova and U.S. Senator for CO Michael Bennet discuss the war in Ukraine, the role of the United States, and what the conflict could mean for democracy around the world.

    Moderator: Rachel Epstein, Professor and Senior Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs, Josef Korbel School of International Studies

  • 1:30 PM | A Renewed and Reimagined Democracy: Perspectives from Emerging Leaders

    Overview: Building and sustaining democracies is a generational challenge. Three Aspen Institute Rising Leaders will discuss their perspectives on how we renew and reimagine democracy today to ensure strong and stable democracies for the future.

    Speakers: Mari Manoogian, Political Director at The Next 50 and former State Representative, Michigan; Philippe Nassif, Associate Vice President, The Cohen Group, Anand Raghuraman, Director, Global Public Policy, MasterCard 

    Moderator: Ryan Heath, Global Technology Correspondent, Axios

  • 2:10 PM | The Critical Role of Local Media in the Democracy Ecosystem

    Overview: Independent local journalism plays a unique role in U.S. democracy. In the best cases, local journalists shed light on solutions, explain complicated issues and opposing viewpoints, and connect us to our neighbors by spotlighting their humanity. Public media and nonprofit digital startups are taking on new roles to fill news gaps and combat disinformation – especially in rural areas and underserved communities. This panel will discuss building healthier local news and information ecosystems – at scale and nonpartisan civic institutions to hold space for a more functional, inclusive, and trustworthy public square – online and offline.

    Speakers: Elizabeth Hansen Shapiro, CEO, National Trust for Local News; Corey Hutchins, Colorado Media Project/Inside the News; and Arun Venkataraman, Global Strategy Lead, Google News Initiative

    Moderator: Jim BradyVice President/Journalism for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

  • 2:55 PM | Denver Dialogues: A Revitalized Democratic Order

    Overview: This special session of the Denver Dialogues will examine the future of democracy and how to navigate the current and foreseen challenges and threats to the world democratic order. The Denver Dialogues is a series hosted by the Scrivner Institute of Public Policy and the Korbel School in partnership with the American Enterprise Institute, Aspen Institute, Hoover Institution, and New America. Representatives from each think tank will engage and model robust and constructive conversation on the democratic challenges we face and potential paths forward to revitalize democracy.

    SpeakersElmira Bayrasli, Future Security Fellow, New America; Ambassador Enrique Berruga, Executive Director, Aspen Institute Mexico; and Dalibor Rohac, Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute

    Moderator: Naazneen Barma, Associate Professor and Director of the Scrivner Institute of Public Policy, Josef Korbel School of International Studies

  • 4:00 PM | The Role of the Judiciary in a Strong Democracy

    Overview: Justice Melissa Hart and Attorney General Phil Weiser will talk about the important role the judiciary must play in a strong democracy.

    SpeakersMelissa Hart, CO Supreme Court Justice; and Phil Weiser, Colorado Attorney General

    Moderator: Ryan Heath, Global Technology Correspondent, Axios

  • Summit Close

    Thank you for joining us for the 2023 Denver Democracy Summit! All session recordings will be available shortly after the Summit on the Korbel School's YouTube channel

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