In Defense of Democracy: Preserving the Post Enlightenment Narrative in the 21st Century




History demonstrates that democracy is a fragile creation. This is especially true in the 21st century, as liberal democracy and Post-Enlightenment values come under threat both directly — from competing ideologies like ultra-nationalism, jingoistic populism, ”Putinism,” Chinese communism, and violent extremism— as well as indirectly, from the massive challenges posed by climate change, globalization, automation, and resource scarcity. In the spirit of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the American president who successfully defended liberal democracy from fascism, communism, and economic depression, the FDR Foundation proposes an aggressive program of education and applied research to safeguard democratic ideals for the 21st century.


The FDR Foundation will begin by illuminating the problem through survey-driven research around the Atlantic region and multi-sector programming at Harvard. We will then partner with some of Harvard’s professional schools (Business, Divinity, Education, Government, Law, Public Health) to develop cross-disciplinary interventions aimed at specific regions and age cohorts.


The Foundation endorses efforts to defend liberal democracy by these Harvard faculty members:

Matthew Baum, Veronica Boix-Mansilla, Quinton Mayne, and Pippa Norris

And these professors from around the U.S. and the world:

Adam Berinsky, Matthew Gentzkow, Kelly Greenhill, Alexander Görlach, Randy Kluver, David Lazer, Brendan Nyhan, Emily Thorson, and Monica Toft


In Defense of Democracy is the FDR Foundation’s only open-ended program. As of Fall, 2018 we are actively seeking advocates, partners, and co-sponsors.

For more information, please contact:

Jed Willard ( | | @WillardJed)