It’s hard not to feel that the democratic process in the U.S. (and around the world) has been corroded, in numerous regards. According to a Pew Research Center poll in April 2018, a majority of Americans on both sides of the political spectrum agree that there need to be significant changes to the design and structure of our democracy. Questions have been raised about polarization and a loss of civility, misinformation and news bubbles, the influence of money in politics, gridlock, gerrymandering, voter eligibility and participation, declining information about local candidates and issues, executive power, and more.
Democracy Lab provides an opportunity for the talented, civically-engaged students at Princeton to rise to these challenges with innovative solutions. Teams of students will meet regularly throughout the year to study the issues, learn techniques used by social entrepreneurs to unleash creative problem-solving, and design a solution to a problem of their choosing. Teams will be guided through the process of examining their challenge (largely by interviewing and observing people affected by it) and then analyzing the data, brainstorming ideas, and, to the extent possible, prototyping and implementing proposed fixes. Leading up to the 2020 elections, Democracy Lab will focus on how to improve voter participation and how to improve information about candidates and issues.
Democracy Lab will also be accompanied by a speaker series open to all. The schedule will be announced later in the summer.
If you have questions about Democracy Lab, please contact Matthew Lazen, the Director of Studies at Butler, at email@example.com.