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Is Democracy in Danger? An Interdisciplinary Conversation

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Hear some of Stanford's extraordinary faculty discuss the relationship between civic engagement, public service, and academic life. Following the panel, pick up your Democracy Day t-shirt, and stay for some good food and conversation about the role of civic engagement in our own lives. Student facilitators trained by the McCoy Center for Ethics in Society will lead participants in small-group discussion.


Hakeem Jefferson

Hakeem Jefferson is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Stanford University where he is a faculty affiliate with the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity and the Stanford Center for American Democracy. 

Dr. Jefferson’s research focuses primarily on the role identity plays in structuring political attitudes and behaviors in the U.S. He is especially interested in understanding how stigma shapes the politics of Black Americans, particularly as it relates to group members’ support for racialized punitive social policies.

Cheryl Phillips

Cheryl Phillips is the Hearst Professional-in-Residence at Stanford University. She also is co-founder of the Stanford Open Policing Project, a cross-departmental effort to collect police interaction data and evaluate racial disparities, and is a founding member of the California Civic Data Coalition, an effort to make California campaign finance data accessible.

Ms. Phillips worked at The Seattle Times for 12 years as part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting team. She has also worked at USA Today. She is currently involved in an effort to develop a system that collects and releases voting data down to the precinct level in American elections.

Mehran Sahami

Mehran Sahami is the James and Ellenor Chesebrough Professor in the School of Engineering, and Professor (Teaching) and Associate Chair for Education in the Computer Science department. He is also the Robert and Ruth Halperin University Fellow in Undergraduate Education.

Dr. Sahami’s research interests include computer science education, artificial intelligence, and ethics. He teaches the introductory computer science sequence at Stanford. He recently published “System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot” with co-authors Rob Reich and Jeremy Weinstein. 

Janine Zacharia

Janine Zacharia is the McClatchey Visiting Lecturer in Stanford University’s Communications Department. She was a regular contributor to the New Republic and has appeared as a cable news analyst on MSNBC, CNN, and other networks.

Zacharia was Jerusalem Bureau Chief and Middle East Correspondent for the Washington Post in 2009–2011. She reported widely throughout the Middle East beyond Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including assignments in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Turkey. She also reported on the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt and Bahrain as they began in the early 2010s.

Michael McFaul

Michael McFaul is the Director at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, the Ken Olivier and Angela Nomellini Professor of International Studies in the Department of Political Science, and the Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He joined the Stanford faculty in 1995.

Dr. McFaul is also an International Affairs Analyst for NBC News and a columnist for the Washington Post. During the Obama Administration, he served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council at the White House (2009-2012), and then as U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation (2012-2014). His current research interests include American foreign policy, great power relations, and the relationship between democracy and development.