Join us for conversations on key events, places, thinkers and texts that help us understand the history and principles of democracy. 

Fall 2022 Events

Algorithms and Democracy

Featuring Nicol Turner Lee and Anton Korinek
Date: Friday, September 30
Time: 12:00 PM

If democracy involves values such as fairness, equality and agency, does AI and algorithmic decision making support or undermine those values?  What should we be concerned about with regard to the relationship between democracy and machine learning algorithms?   In what ways can algorithms benefit democratic governance?  What policy solutions might address the risks that AI poses to democracy?

For a discussion of these questions and themes, join Anton Korinek, professor of Economics at UVA and co-director of the Karsh Institute’s Economic Inequality Working Group, who has written about how AI could affect income distribution and economic opportunity — whether those could be equitable and inclusive or biased and concentrated.  

Korinek will be in conversation with Nicol Turner Lee, Brookings Institution Governance Studies fellow, Director of the Center for Technology Innovation, and Co-Editor-In-Chief of TechTank, whose work has focused on algorithmic decision making with regard to themes of equity and bias and the ways in which developments in AI technology impact governance more broadly.


Rethinking Representation

Featuring Helene Landemore and Kevin Duong
Date: Friday, October 21
Time: 12:00 PM

Throughout the globe, the structures of representative democracy are facing tremendous pressures and criticism. And many are asking: is representative democracy representative enough? What are the limits of our current existing institutions and conceptual frameworks about the elections and political representation?  

Drawing on the institutional innovations and constitutional reforms from various countries, including Finland, France and Iceland, Yale Professor of Political Science Helene Landemore in her book, Open Democracy: Reinventing Popular Rule for the Twenty-First Century, argues that we ought to rethink our understanding of representative democracy to also include non-electoral but representative functions. Democratic institutions could be more open and participatory, as well as responsive and effective, she argues, if they were able to draw in ordinary citizens into the legislative process through political bodies in which selection in based on lotteries and rotation.  

Join us for a conversation on these themes with Helene Landemore and Kevin Duong, UVA Assistant Professor in Politics and Fellow of the Karsh Institute’s Nau Lab on the History and Principles of Democracy.


Chilean Constitutional Reform

Featuring Camila Vergara and Thomas Klubock
Date: Friday, November 11
Time: 12:00 PM

Chileans recently voted to rewrite their constitution to replace the one produced in 1980 during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. A Constitutional Assembly made up of elected citizen delegates is taking on this task in a process characterized by widespread citizen involvement through referendums and other forms of participation. This Assembly was also formed with a requirement of gender parity and representation for Chile’s indigenous populations. 

How is this contemporary constitutional convention process unfolding? What challenges have reformers faced? How will this process impact Latin America, and what might it mean more broadly for the future of constitutionalism? 

Join us for a conversation with constitutional theorist Camila Vergara, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellow at Cambridge University, and Thomas Klubock, Professor of History at UVA and expert in Chilean history, for a discussion of the Chilean constitutional reform effort.



Democracy & Dance at The Paramount Theater 

Featuring UVA’s Karsh Institute of Democracy executive director Melody Barnes, Christina Johnson (profiled in Misty Copeland’s new book, Black Ballerinas), Brandye Lee, Keith Lee, and Dr. Maria Chee.
Date: Saturday, May 7
Time: 4:15 PM

The Life of Alexis de Tocqueville

Featuring Sophia Rosenfeld and Olivier Zunz
Date: Friday, April 1
Time: 4:00 PM

Watch the Recording

Remembering Algerian Independence

Featuring Samia Henni and Sheila Crane
Date: Friday, March 25
Time: 1:00 PM

Watch the Recording

Walt Whitman: Poet of Democracy

Featuring Mark Edmundson and Jahan Ramazani
Date: Friday, February 11
Time: 12:00 PM

Watch the Recording

Renaissance Humanism, Democracy, and the University​

Featuring Christopher Celenza (Johns Hopkins University) and Chad Wellmon (UVA), moderated by Jacqueline Arthur-Montagne (UVA)
Date: Wednesday, September 8th, 2021
Time: 4:00pm-5:30pm

Watch the Recording

Democracy Dreams: José Martí and Cuba in the Nineteenth Century​

Featuring Ada Ferrer (New York University) winner of a 2022 Pulitzer Prize, moderated by Jalane Schmidt (UVA)

Date: Monday, October 18th, 2021
Time: Noon-1:30pm
Location: Virtual Webinar

Watch the Recording

Edmund Burke and Democracy

Featuring Yuval Levin (American Enterprise Institute), moderated by Jennifer Tsien (UVA)

Date: Wednesday, November 10th, 2021
Time: Noon-1:30pm
Location: Virtual Webinar

Watch the Recording

For questions regarding the Touchstones of Democracy event series please contact the Nau Lab Manager, Dr. Jessica Kimpell Johnson at