The Mathews Center officially launched the Applied Democracy Exchanges conversation series with Dr. David Mathews in 2023. These monthly discussions, held every third Thursday, focus on the current perils and future promises of democracy in the U.S. and abroad. Held both live online and in-person, participants will explore a unique, democracy-related theme each month. 

As we collectively delve into varied topics, we are particularly interested in bridging the gap between theory and practice, bringing together both researchers of democracy and its practitioners on the ground. Guest speakers will include journalists, teachers, researchers, and everyday people from all over the world who share a deep belief in democracy and concern for its future.

The inaugural session, titled “A Free Press: Examining the Role of Journalism in a Functioning Democracy,” took place on Thursday, January 19, 2023. Dr. David Mathews introduced the topic and provided insight into the relationship between journalism and our nation’s current democracy crisis. Featured speakers Nan Fairley from Auburn University and Laura Anderson from the Alabama Humanities Alliance discussed the Democracy and the Informed Citizen Podcast, which shares the stories of the PACERS network of community journalists who use local newspapers to help revitalize their rural Alabama towns. A folder of resources from this month’s event can be downloaded here.

We were honored to have guests from all over the world attend and share their unique perspectives on how journalism affects democracy in their own communities. Joining online from Evanston, IL, co-founder of DePaul University’s Asset-Based Community Development Institute John McKnight said, “Newspapers give us a mirror of who we are. And, in building a culture, that constant messaging about our collective contributions is a major force in getting collective contribution in society.” A full recording of January’s ADE session is available on the DMC YouTube channel.

Next month, our topic will be how community organizations discover, preserve, and amplify Black voices in their local history in recognition of Black History Month. It will take place on Thursday, February 16 at 12:00 PM CST, and you can now register on the ADE Eventbrite page

Do you have suggestions for topics to explore in future Applied Democracy Exchanges? Let us know by filling out our survey. Your input is invaluable in helping us form productive and meaningful conversations.