SNF Agora Institute is a left-of-center research institute at Johns Hopkins University that advocates for left-of-center public policy under the guise of improving democratic processes. Its research fellows claim that policy that restricts speech to prevent so-called “misinformation,” environmentalist policies, policies that increase funding health care programs for immigrants, and funding for education programs are essential for improving democratic processes. 1
SNF Agora Institute, also known as Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute, was founded in 2017 through a $150 million donation from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation to Johns Hopkins University to create the institution. 2 The Stavros Niarchos Foundation is a foreign charity created by Greek shipping-industry billionaire Stavros Niarchos. 3
John Hopkins University professors and students perform research within SNF Agora Institute to advocate for policy that it claims would improve democratic processes by making them more representative of all demographics. Its “Strategic Plan” states it organizes “meetings with ideologically conservative faculty to support our intention to remain a space that is open to people with diverse viewpoints.” 4
In January 2022, SNF Agora Institute Senior Fellow Yascha Mounk published a report on his research for the institute on how to prevent liberal democracies from being subjected to authoritarians gaining power. He argues that if adults should be allowed to vote, then to prevent authoritarianism, “the elite” (with whom he identifies) should work with ordinary people to vote in a common interest. 5 6
In May 2022, SNF Agora Institute published a book titled Radical American Partisanship: Mapping Violent Hostility, Its Causes, and the Consequences for Democracy by Nathan P. Kalmoe and Lilliana Mason. According to the SNF Agora Institute’s website, the book argues that the division between Republicans and Democrats is based on the same racial and ethnic struggles that led to the American Civil War. It also presents that the authors’ research on the prevalence of “radicalism” in partisan politics and argues that this radicalism was demonstrated on the January 6, 2021, protests at the Capitol, and warns that to prevent further escalations of violence and civil discord some great changes must occur. 7
In September 2022, SNF Agora Institute published a report on its “Race and Memory” project, where it studied how historical racial oppression should be memorialized. 8
Louise Flavahan is the dialogue and debate director for SNF Agora Institute. She previously served as senior public policy analyst and speechwriter for former U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). 9
Catherine Pierre is the communications director for SNF Agora Institute. She began working for Johns Hopkins University in 2003 as associate editor of Johns Hopkins Magazine and became editor in 2007. Pierre has also worked as publications director, editorial director, and director of communications for the magazine. 10
- “SNF Agora Institute Faculty Explore How to Strengthen Democracy.” YouTube. YouTube, November 17, 2021. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iv3kx89ttU.
- SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University. Accessed March 26, 2023. https://snfagora.jhu.edu/about-snf-agora/.
- Stavros Niarchos Foundation. Accessed March 26, 2023. https://www.snf.org/.
- “Strategic Plan.” Baltimore: Stavros Niarchos Foundation SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins, June 2020. https://snfagora.jhu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Strategic-Plan_Public_FINAL.pdf
- Mounk, Yascha. “Democracy Is Broken. Here’s How to Fix It.” Stavros Niarchos Foundation SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins, January 7, 2022. https://snfagora.jhu.edu/publication/democracy-is-broken-heres-how-to-fix-it/.
- Mounk, Yascha. “Cease-Fire in the Culture Wars.” Foreign Policy, January 7, 2022. https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/01/07/10-ideas-fix-democracy/.
- “Radical American Partisanship: Mapping Violent Hostility, Its Causes, and the Consequences for Democracy.” Stavros Niarchos Foundation SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins, May 6, 2022. https://snfagora.jhu.edu/publication/radical-american-partisanship-mapping-violent-hostility-its-causes-and-the-consequences-for-democracy/.
- “The Race, Memory, and Democracy Project Report.” Stavros Niarchos Foundation SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins, September 13, 2022. https://snfagora.jhu.edu/publication/the-race-memory-and-democracy-project-report/.
- “Louise Flavahan.” Stavros Niarchos Foundation SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins. Accessed March 26, 2023. https://snfagora.jhu.edu/person/louise-flavahan/.
- “Catherine Pierre.” Stavros Niarchos Foundation SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins. Accessed March 26, 2023. https://snfagora.jhu.edu/person/catherine-pierre/.