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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2007 / 08 

Liberal Arts and Human Sciences helps state commemorate 400 years with Foundations of Democracy

August 28, 2007

Foundations of Democracy
Foundations of Democracy

As part of America's 400th Anniversary commemoration, Virginia Tech and the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences will host a conference on the "Foundations of Democracy" Sept. 5-7 at The Inn at Virginia Tech.

“This three-day event will provide an opportunity for residents of Southwest Virginia to participate in America’s 400th Anniversary commemoration,” said Dan Thorp, chair of the Department of History.

Organized by Virginia Tech’s Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought, the conference brings nine renowned scholars to Blacksburg to discuss democracy through the ages, including expectations for the future.

Foundations of Democracy will explore the classical origins of democracy in Ancient Greece and Rome, the establishment of democratic institutions in the United States, the widening and deepening of American democracy over the past 250 years, and the outlook for democracy in the United States and abroad at the dawn of the 21st century.

This conference is part of the International Conference Series on the Foundations and Future of Democracy, which is sponsored by the Jamestown 400th Federal Commission. The year-long series features noted democratic scholars, political commentators, and governmental practitioners at various Virginia university sites for topical sessions exploring the elements of successful democratic systems and the future of mature and emerging democracies around the world. The conference series began in August 2006 with an International Youth Summit on Democracy at the University of Virginia and will culminate in September 2007 with the World Forum on the Future of Democracy at the College of William and Mary, Colonial Williamsburg, and Jamestown.

An electronic and print record of all conference proceedings will be compiled by the Jamestown 400th Federal Commission as the “Jamestown Commentaries on the Foundation and Future of Democracy.”

The following sessions are free and open to the public:

Thursday, Sept. 6

  • 9 to 11:30 a.m., Theory and Practice of Classical Democracy, with Josh Ober (Stanford University) and Jennifer T. Roberts (City University of New York).
  • 2 to 4:30 p.m., Establishing American Democracy, with Richard Ryerson (David Library of the American Revolution) and Jack Rakove (Stanford University).

Friday, Sept. 7

  • 9 to 11:30 a.m., Transformations of American Democracy: A Roundtable, with Sarah Deutsch (Duke University), Amilcar Shabazz (University of Massachusetts), and David E. Wilkins (University of Minnesota).
  • 2 to 4:30 p.m., Democracy in the 21st Century, with Mark Tushnet (Harvard Law School) and Anne Norton (University of Pennsylvania).

This conference is sponsored by The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, the Office of the President, and the Office of the Provost.