Democracy Rising

A symposium and workshop about the politics of upheaval and the contradictions of democracy


Organizing Institutions

Global Center for Advanced Studies (GCAS)

Contributing Institutions



Creston Davis, Sadie Luetmer, Rosie O'Brien and Nathan Wiley

Opens to public





4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Contact info

Free and open to the public. The first 40 people to rsvp will receive a free lunch.


0% Formal - 100% Informal

Slought is pleased to announce "Democracy Rising," a one-day symposium and workshop on Sunday, July 24th, 2016 from 9:30-5:00pm, with opening remarks by Chris Hedges at 10:00am. Organized with the Global Center for Advanced Studies (GCAS), and paralleling the Democratic National Convention, the program is an expression of the critical role played by education and free thought in the exercise of democratic principles. It features a collective of scholars and activists who are dedicated to thinking critically about American politics, the challenges facing global democracy, and the implications of contemporary social structures for marginalized groups.

We live in a moment in which the promises of democracy in the United States are being actively interrogated. After decades of uprisings, conferences, campaigns, and marches led by those who have preached the importance of resistance, institutional systems of power claim they are in agreement with democratic ideals even as their actions suggest otherwise. Democracy Rising is a symposium and workshop that seeks to examine these contradictions and complexities, and to collaboratively discuss and debate the possibility of changing them.

Through a series of moderated roundtable discussions and collaborative group dialogue, Democracy Rising will attempt to formulate alternative modes of democratic responsibility. Unlike ordinary conferences, seminars, symposia, and colloquia, which are planned well in advance and often set to recur at regular intervals, Democracy Rising follows the erratic rhythms and temporal tangents of sociopolitical upheaval, and for this reason can only be convened "on the fly" through the responsiveness of its organizers, supporters, and participants.

In this respect, Democracy Rising is an idea, a meme; a rhizomatic nomadic structure that arises where crisis demands participation; a nexus between theory and practice that takes form in relation to sites and topics of struggle. This emergent and dialogical approach, continuously generated by the movements that demand and live them, enters into the public realm as a declaration of purpose for a critical consensus.

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Kshama Sawant
Socialist politician and activist who sits on the Seattle City Council.

Chris Hedges
Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist, activist, author, and Presbyterian minister.

Laura Hanna
Co-founder of the Debt Collective and filmmaker who produces short-form documentaries about social justice.

Boris Franklin
Public advocate and educator, currently studying at Rutgers University.

Joshua Ramey
Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Grinnell College.

Richard Stanislaw
Political Theorist and writer.

Creston Davis
Director of GCAS and co-editor of Insurrections for Columbia University Press.

Winnie Wong
Lawyer and lead organizer of Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Sandy and #FeelTheBern (People For Bernie).

Margaret Flowers
Pediatrician and U.S. Senate nominee for the Maryland Green Party.

Ann Rutledge
Former employee and whistleblower at Moody's Investor Service, now structured finance expert at R&R Consulting.

Pablo Bustinduy
Member of Spain's Congress, and international relations representative for Podemos, a left-wing political party in Spain.

Sigrid Hackenberg
An interdisciplinary artist and philosopher based in New York and Professor at GCAS.

Phyllis Baldino
New York based artist and lecturer who creates large-scale video installations.

Shon Meckfessel
Seattle-based writer for The Nation, activist, and former bassist of the band Cake.

Alan Jay Richard
Theologian, writer and activist.

Ethan Earle
Project manager at Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung (NYC), specializing in US and South American relations.

"Democracy, a system designed to challenge the status quo, has been corrupted to serve the status quo. The abject failure of activists and the liberal class to push corporate, industrialized states toward serious environmental reform, to thwart imperial adventurism, or to build a humane policy toward the world's poor stems from an inability to face these new configurations of power...

We must protest, learn to live simply and begin, in an age of material and imperial decline, to speak with a new humility. It is in the tangible, mundane, and difficult work of forming groups and communities to care for others that we will kindle the outrage and the moral vision to fight back, that we will articulate an alternative."

-- Chris Hedges, Death of the Liberal Class