Theme 3 – Transforming our democracy to be participatory

The Centre for the Future of Democracy at Cambridge University have been studying the level of satisfaction of people in democracies since 1995. The 2020 Report shows dissatisfaction with democracy at the highest since the research began. The highest dissatisfaction was in the USA and Brazil, with countries including Australia and the UK seeing their highest level of dissatisfaction to date. Countries who had the lowest level of dissatisfaction included Luxembourg, Denmark, Switzerland and Norway. The study covered 154 nations and the highest rise of dissatisfaction was in developed countries.  What is happening and why? There appears to be a correlation between how governments are dealing with issues that affect citizens. Can democracy be improved?

Speakers include:  Baroness Helena Kennedy, Professor James Fishkin of Stanford University USA, Dr Harry Pearse of University of Cambridge UK

Baroness Helena Kennedy:  A British barrister, broadcaster, member of the United Kingdom’s House of Lords and the founding force behind the creation of the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights at Oxford University, Baroness Kennedy QC has held many prominent positions throughout her career, including: Principal of Mansfield College, Oxford (2011–2018); Chair of Justice, the British arm of the International Commission of Jurists; bencher of Gray’s Inn; President of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; Chair of Charter 88 (1992–1997) a British pressure group that advocated constitutional and electoral reform; Chair of the Human Genetics Commission (1998–2007); and Chair of the British Council (1998–2004). She also chaired the Power Inquiry, which reported on the state of British democracy and produced the Power Report in 2006. She has also authored and published several books on the ways in which the justice system fails women.

 List of books:  Eve Was Framed: Women and British Justice (1993); Just Law (2005); Eve Was Shamed: How British Justice is Failing Women (2018); Misjustice: How British Law is Failing Women (2019)

James S. Fishkin holds the Janet M. Peck Chair in International Communication at Stanford University where he is Professor of Communication, Professor of Political Science (by courtesy) and Director of the Center for Deliberative Democracy. He is the author of Democracy When the People Are Thinking (Oxford 2018), When the People Speak(Oxford 2009), Deliberation Day  (Yale 2004 with Bruce Ackerman) and Democracy and Deliberation (Yale 1991). He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, and a Visiting Fellow Commoner at Trinity College, Cambridge. His work on deliberative democracy has stimulated more than 100 Deliberative Polls in countries around the world.

Harry Pearse is a Research Associate at the Centre for the Future of Democracy, working on the strengths, uses and permutations of contemporary deliberative democracy. His research develops a critique of representative or electoral democracy’s capacity to meet certain democratic ideals, and asks whether or to what degree deliberative practices could mitigate those shortcomings. He is particularly interested in the effect of deliberation on climate politics.

In a past life, he was an intellectual historian, principally interested in early modern philosophy (natural and political). His PhD (King’s College, Cambridge) was a study of the disciplinary relationship between natural philosophy and theology in seventeenth-century England.

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