Johns Hopkins University

In this age of divisive discourse, Johns Hopkins is turning to inspiration from the country that founded democracy in the first place.

According to the JHU Hub, the Stavros Nirachos Foundation gifted the university $150 million to create a new Agora Institute. It draws inspiration from the agoras of ancient Greek city-states, which were gathering points where people from across walks of life could openly discuss the issues of the day. We could use a little of that acceptance in the public square today.

“In the U.S. and around the world, the rise in division, distrust, and alienation presents a daunting and urgent challenge,” said JHU president Ronald J. Daniels in a statement. “Today, cutting-edge research across a range of disciplines—coupled with a commitment to strengthen civic dialogue—can give us new insight into these trends and new opportunities for productive policymaking and problem-solving.

The institute will bring together 10 faculty, and have 10 visiting scholars each year from across a range of study areas. Plus, events will be held each year both in Baltimore and Athens, Greece to explore a challenging policy issue. Plus, a new building is being built in Baltimore at the Homewood campus.

Stephen Babcock is the editor of Baltimore and an editor-at-large of Baltimore Fishbowl.