New Project Teams Will Examine Democracy in a Polarized World

May 27, 2022

Apply Now: Pop-up Teams on Democracy.

By many measures – including freedom of the press, free and fair elections, and government transparency – democracy is declining in much of the world. What solutions might bridge growing levels of political polarization and disinformation, and what policy changes can help democratic institutions live up to their ideals?

Three new Bass Connections project teams starting this fall will address issues related to democracy and the challenges of sustaining strong democratic institutions in a polarized world. Students can apply for these teams (as well as others) through June 15, 2022 at 5:00 p.m.

Please follow the links below for more information on each project team. Please note that students who are already on a project team for 2022-2023 are not eligible to apply.

Measuring Democracy in America

Free and fair elections are the fundamental building block of democracy. In the U.S.’s federal system, the fifty states have widely different procedures for managing all aspects of the voting system. This project team will determine if a scorecard evaluation of state election systems or other key aspects of American democracy can make a positive contribution to the debate over democracy protection.

Politics and Polarization in Mainline Protestant Congregations

It has been argued that churches can “bridge” social and political divides because they bring diverse individuals together in the context of shared identity, beliefs and interests. This project team will explore the social, political and health impacts of political polarization in Mainline clergy and congregations with the ultimate aim of developing recommendations to clergy for how to facilitate civil discourse and bridge political difference.

Social Provision of Information for Effective Democratic Citizens

The path to being an informed citizen has become increasingly complicated due to technological changes that have made it easier for disinformation to flourish. This project team will examine remedies to the growing information gap by exploring three interrelated interventions: information subsidies, media/digital literacy and a community information needs assessment.

Why Democracy Projects?

These three teams are the result of a special call for proposals related to democracy that was announced in January 2022. While the five interdisciplinary themes of Bass Connections support a broad range of research related to persistent societal challenges, these themes are not all-encompassing, and we recognize the need to respond nimbly to new challenges confronting society. As a result, in 2018, Bass Connections launched its first “pop-up” theme, focused on hurricane recovery and resilience with a specific focus on the local impacts of Hurricane Florence. Since then, Bass Connections has supported two additional pop-up themes, including one on social, political and economic issues related to immigration and another focused on the complex issues and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of this fourth pop-up theme is to support teams tackling research aimed at strengthening democracy and governance in a polarized world.

Wondering About Summer Recruitment for Additional 2022-2023 Teams?

In addition to the three teams related to democracy, several 2022-2023 project teams are currently recruiting additional student team members. Students may apply to up to two project teams using our online application. The deadline to apply is June 15 at 5:00 p.m.

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