A network of thinkers from disciplines across the humanities and social sciences gather to study the possible futures of our democracies

Futures of Democracy is an IOS platform that brings together experts from across the globe and across disciplines in the humanities and social sciences to discuss the possible futures of our democracies. Starting from the assumption that liberal democracy is in crisis today, we build a global network of scholars to enhance our understanding of this crisis and the alternatives to liberal democracy that have emerged. To stimulate a dialogue among all disciplines within the humanities and social sciences we organise monthly seminars to share new ideas, insights, papers, and project applications that would otherwise remain 'hidden' to those outside the specific discipline for a long time.

When democracy does not live up to its promise, authoritarianism becomes an alternative. The lure of authoritarianism has renewed across the world with numerous countries showing signs of democratic backsliding. Deepening socio-economic inequalities, monetised digital platforms, and opaque state institutions leave a growing part of society feeling powerless. These feelings are fuelling the rise of antidemocratic demagoguery. Yet, this is not the first time democracy has faced authoritarian challenges and time and again education has proven to be a crucial element of healthy democracies.

The Futures of Democracy 2023-24 Seminar Series will focus on the role of education in defending liberal democracy against populism and authoritarianism in terms of concepts, theory, as well as practice. As the title of the platform suggests, we should be ready to accept that just as there are different pasts and presents of democracy, it will have different futures. Traditions, contexts, and a permanently evolving repertoire of the many forms and potentials of broad and diverse inclusion result in complex human societies. To address this complexity we bring together a variety of speakers to help us in our endeavors to understand our societies, and ourselves.

The platform Futures of Democracy is part of one of the strategic research themes of Utrecht University: Institutions for Open Societies