The CEU Democracy Institute examines and seeks solutions to the challenges democracy faces across the globe today. It builds on the 30-year legacy of world-class research, teaching and outreach in the spirit of democracy and freedom achieved by Central European University, a private university that is transatlantic by nature — rooted in American and European traditions of higher learning.
The Institute is based in Budapest, on the frontlines of the battle to protect the rule of law and enable open society to flourish. At the same time, as part of the CEU network it is global from its inception. Its prominent researchers and top-notch facilities enable it to attract high-caliber thinkers, become a key convener of free debate and dialogue across disciplines and professions, and host collaboration that aims to create new knowledge and propose solutions to ensure the sustainability and success of democracies worldwide.
Democracy is under siege. A generation ago, the threat to democracy--whether in Turkey, Korea, or Chile--came from generals who seized power and did away with parliaments. Today the threat is more subtle and more insidious. Ever-more sophisticated attacks against the rule of law and democratic norms, growing inequalities, rapid technological development, the rise of nationalism, the erosion of public trust in mainstream institutions, and concerns amplified by the global pandemic pose formidable new challenges to democratic governance and the fabric of society. Elected populist leaders are weaponizing democracy against itself, and democracy’s very concept is being defied by autocratic but economically successful forms of government.
Yet there is renewed hope. From movements in Belarus and Bangkok to justice-seeking movements fighting for new and more inclusive forms of democracy around the globe, citizens are taking a stand.
To support democracy’s future, it is imperative that we better understand the nature and practice of 21st century democratic rule, and--even more importantly--develop effective responses to strengthen democratic resilience.
Generating solutions is a paramount responsibility of the academy. Since our founding in the early 1990s, CEU has:
- Educated a generation of transformational leaders
- Earned a sterling research reputation, securing competitive funding from the European Commission, foundation and corporate donors
- Achieved recognition as one of the world’s best universities for the social sciences and humanities, with top-ranked programs in politics and international studies, philosophy, and social policy and administration
- Attracted students, researchers, faculty, and staff from around the world to a hub of knowledge creation and exchange with the local and global public
When in 2017 controversial legislation curbed CEU’s ability to operate as an American university in Hungary and forced our U.S. degree programs to Vienna, CEU began examining our contributions to the development of free and open societies and asking ourselves what more must be done.
It is on this foundation that CEU has established a research institute in Budapest to make a distinctive contribution to the future of democracy.