The University of Virginia’s Democracy Initiative aspires to excellence in integrated research, teaching and public engagement on democracy at a global scale—bringing together a diverse range of scholars, government leaders, and practitioners to study and advance the prospects of democracy around the world.

The College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, in collaboration with schools and academic units across UVA, and with the support of the Miller Center of Public Affairs, is committed to leading the way in sustaining, enriching and realizing democracy’s promise. We are doing this through the cross-university Democracy Initiative.

The Democracy Initiative was established in 2018 with leadership support from generous donors to the College Foundation and the Jefferson Scholars Foundation. It is designed to engage a wide audience—from undergraduates to world leaders—in examining the challenges confronting democracies today.

Democracy can endure only with a broadly educated electorate and leaders prepared to serve the common good. UVA’s establishment in 1817 is inseparably linked to the nation’s bold experiment with democracy—as well as its unfulfilled promises. In this sense, the University’s history, current efforts, and commitment to the future—like that of the American republic more generally—is both inspiring and challenged, promising and in need of completion. Our history uniquely positions us to be the global center for the study of democracy’s successes and failures, opportunities and threats, and to influence policies that strengthen democracy at home and worldwide.