Sortition — the use of randomly selected citizen assemblies to advise legislators or make legislation — is not simply an abstract idea. Around the world, citizen assemblies comprised of randomly selected participants are meeting to discuss and decide upon important political controversies. The Arendt Center's 2021 conference brought together leading experts on democracy and on the use of citizen assemblies to ask how elements of lottery and citizen deliberation can help reenergize democracy. Questions asked at our conference include:
Above all, we asked, how can we revitalize democracy in the 21st century?
As part of our ongoing Sortition project and in, conjunction with our 2021 conference, we produced a series of videos by leading authorities on democracy, citizen assemblies, and sortition. These include three intro videos by Hannah Arendt Director Roger Berkowirz, two videos by the Chairman of the G1000 David Van Reybrouck, as well as videos by Jane Suiter, Tracy Strong, Eva Ropers, Yasemin Sari, Shmuel Lederman, and Michael MacKenzie.
These videos will soon be offered in an open online course sponsored by the Open Society University Network (OSUN). We offer them now for free along with other open educational resources available on this website. You can also watch a livestream of the 2021 Arendt Center Conference here.
Revitalizing Democracy, Sortition, and Citizen Power
Is it too late to revitalize democracy? Democratic innovation at the eve of climate collapse
David Van Reybrouck
Moderator: Roger Berkowitz
Citizen Assemblies in Ireland and Serbia
Jane Suiter, Gazela Pudar Draško, Irena Fiket, and Thamy Pogrebinschi
Moderator: Mark Williams Jr. ’18
1:15PM - 2:00 PM
Breakout Session: (optional) Olin Room 201
Advocacy for Citizen Assemblies
David Van Reybrouck, Hans Kern ’14, and Jonas Kunz ’18
Moderator: Mie Inouye
Future Publics and Council Governance
Michael MacKenzie and Shmuel Lederman
Moderator: Yasemin Sari
Citizen Assemblies: Democracy’s Second Act
Moderator: Eva Rovers
Democracy Reinvented: Participatory Budgeting and Civic Innovation in America
Hollie Russon Gilman and James Barry Jr.
Moderator: Thomas Bartscherer
Wine and cheese reception, Blithewood Mansion (outside)
Open Democracy: The French Climate Citizen Assembly
Moderator: Uday Singh Mehta
The Parallel Polis
Moderator: Peter Rosenblum
1:15 PM - 2:00 PM
Breakout Session (optional), Olin 202
Kali Akuno and Jason Toney ’17
Learning Our Native Tongue: America as a Project
Tracy B. Strong
Moderator: Allison Stanger
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Local Sortition Experiments
Mayor Kamal Johnson, Supervisor Robert McKeon, and Supervisor Darrah Cloud
Moderator: David Van Reybrouck
Joined by Bard students enrolled in Van Reybrouck’s course Beyond Elections: Revitalizing Democracy through Citizens’ Assemblies
COVID protocols have made it necessary for us to limit capacity at the conference to ensure the safety of audiences, speakers, students, and staff. Registration will be first come first serve. By registering, you're pledging to attend the conference. Please do not register if you're not fully 100% committed to attending.
Covid-19 Vaccination is REQUIRED to attend the conference for all registrants, with no exceptions. Fully vaccinated means all registrants are two weeks beyond the date of their final COVID-19 vaccination shot. All registrants will be asked to provide their vaccination dates within the registration form. Additionally, please be prepared to show proof of vaccination, either your vaccination card or Excelsior Pass at the Registration Desk upon arrival.
The entire conference will be available via Live Webcast to accommodate individuals that cannot attend in person. Please click here to register for the live webcast.
“Representative government is in crisis today, partly because it has lost, in the course of time, all institutions that permitted the citizens’ actual participation, and partly because it is now gravely affected by the disease from which the party system suffers: bureaucratization and the two parties’ tendency to represent nobody except the party machines.”
— Hannah Arendt, 1970