Our Research

As an academic center, the Chicago Center on Democracy helps strengthen democracy by conducting research on how democracies function and how they can function better. We are involved in research in two key ways: 1) we run our own research projects, 2) we provide spaces—both physical and digital—for researchers to advance their work.

Our research projects

  • Democracy Tools. In January 2020, the Chicago Center on Democracy won a $220,000 grant from the United Nations Democracy Fund to embark upon a two-year project to develop a set of publicly available tools that will shed light on three key areas of democratic functioning: 1) tracking global democratic performance, 2) analyzing the rhetorical strategies of politicians, and 3) understanding the role of referendums in healthy democracies. Learn more about this project.
  • Bright Line Watch. The Chicago Center on Democracy houses a multi-university initiative called Bright Line Watch that monitor democratic practices, their resilience, and potential threats. Learn more about Bright Line Watch.

Providing spaces to advance research

  • Networks. We have organized two networks of individuals at UChicago working on democracy: a faculty network and a graduate student network. Each of these groups convenes to share and discuss their work.
  • Events. We have organized a diverse set of events that allow participants to explore many topics related to democracy. For example, in December 2019, we organized a private conference at Harvard University, in which top journalists (Time, New York Times, etc.), practitioners (civil society leaders, a sitting Congressman, etc.), and academics met to discuss “constitutional hardball.”
  • Summer internship. In the summer of 2019, we organized a collaborative internship with Brown University. Three UChicago students and two from Brown worked as a cohort to expand the Democratic Erosion Event Dataset, among other projects. We are looking to run a similar internship in the summer of 2020.
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