Democracy Working Groups

Democratic Futures 

Led by Stephen Parks, Associate Professor, English

The Democratic Futures Core Working Group (DFCWG) draws together UVA academics and international democratic advocates to research, support, and expand newly emerging paradigms of democracy. It asks the question of whether the intersection of these new practices, often based on local or indigenous frameworks, might create a new “transnational” rights framework that authorizes new forms of political organization within and across existing national borders. In doing so, the DFCWG also intends to develop new forms of public scholarship which will circulate this work in forms that support advocates undertaking the difficult work of expanding democratic rights in the face of authoritarian regimes.  

Recent activity includes:

"This Democracy Activist Found Shelter at UVA and is Sharing His Wisdom with Students" UVAToday 

“If we are going to study democracy, we need to see democracy as interlinked, connected to events playing out around the world,” Parks said. “We immediately knew that having Myo Yan Naung Thein would be a really unique opportunity. We had so much respect for the knowledge and insights he could share. And I think we wanted to be scholars who use our resources to support those actually working for democracy.”

Course: ENWR 2510 "Working and Writing For Change: An Academic Writing Course, An Alliance with Global Advocates for Democracy.

Parks' J-Term course was co-taught with Srjda Popovic, Visiting Researcher, DFCWG member, and co-Director of the Center for Applied Nonviolent Actions and Strategies. Myo Yan Naung Thein, a Burmese Democratic Futures Working Group member and Myanmar democratic advocate, also worked with the students, asking them to create work for his BDFWG. 


Naung Thein was interviewed by the Democracy in Danger / Season 3 Episode 13 about having to be smuggled out of his country last spring or face certain torture and death. A leader in Myanmar’s pro-democracy movement, Naung Thein worked in the National League for Democracy, the party of deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Now in exile in the United States, Naung Thein shares his gripping tale, and explains why he thinks the Burmese military regime is losing.


Popovic joined the Democracy in Danger / Season 2 Episode 8 podcast to share the core features of successful mobilization and to consider where and how young people today are shaping the political landscape for the better.