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The Democracy Series: A Conversation with Author Yascha Mounk

Mon. May 16, 2022
7:00 — 8:00 PM CDT

Virtual via Zoom Webinar


Join the University of Chicago Center for Effective Government, the Chicago Center on Democracy, and Seminary Co-op Bookstores on Monday, May 16, at 7 PM CT, for another installment of ‘The Democracy Series’— a joint initiative of public events featuring dialogue between book authors and experts on issues related to the state of democracy in the U.S. and abroad.

Yascha Mounk, SNF Angora Senior Fellow and Associate Professor of International Affairs at Johns Hopkins University, will discuss his book The Great Experiment: Why Diverse Democracies Fall Apart And How They Can Endure. The event will feature:

  • Yascha Mounk | Author, The Great Experiment: Why Diverse Democracies Fall Apart And How They Can Endure

  • Sue Stokes (Moderator) | Director, Chicago Center on Democracy 

About the book:

From one of our sharpest and most important political thinkers, a brilliant big-picture vision of the greatest challenge of our time—how to bridge the bitter divides within diverse democracies enough for them to remain stable and functional

Some democracies are highly homogeneous. Others have long maintained a brutal racial or religious hierarchy, with some groups dominating and exploiting others. Never in history has a democracy succeeded in being both diverse and equal, treating members of many different ethnic or religious groups fairly. And yet achieving that goal is now central to the democratic project in countries around the world. It is, Yascha Mounk argues, the greatest experiment of our time.

Drawing on history, social psychology, and comparative politics, Mounk examines how diverse societies have long suffered from the ills of domination, fragmentation, or structured anarchy. So it is hardly surprising that most people are now deeply pessimistic that different groups might be able to integrate in harmony, celebrating their differences without essentializing them. But Mounk shows us that the past can offer crucial insights for how to do better in the future. There is real reason for hope.

It is up to us and the institutions we build whether different groups will come to see each other as enemies or friends, as strangers or compatriots. To make diverse democracies endure, and even thrive, we need to create a world in which our ascriptive identities come to matter less—not because we ignore the injustices that still characterize the United States and so many other countries around the world, but because we have succeeded in addressing them.

The Great Experiment is that rare book that offers both a profound understanding of an urgent problem and genuine hope for our human capacity to solve it. As Mounk contends, giving up on the prospects of building fair and thriving diverse democracies is simply not an option—and that is why we must strive to realize a more ambitious vision for the future of our societies.

Note: This book is available for purchase at a discounted rate at the Seminary Co-op Bookstores through the Democracy Series Discount Program! Take 30% off retail at the link below using the coupon code "BLUE" — offer valid through June 16 or until supplies last.