International Forum for Democratic Studies Celebrates 30th Anniversary

This month, the International Forum for Democratic Studies celebrates 30 years as a leading center for democratic thought and analysis. Under the leadership of Marc F. Plattner and Larry Diamond, the International Forum was established in April 1994 within the National Endowment for Democracy. Over the past 30 years, the Forum has grown into a specialized center for analyzing and discussing the theory and practice of democratic development worldwide.  

  • The International Forum bridges ideas and practice by convening experts and civil society leaders to deepen understanding of these challenges and identify lessons to reverse the authoritarian wave and accelerate democratic renewal. Research produced by the Forum centers around several defining global challenges to democracy: countering authoritarian influence, combatting transnational kleptocracy, defending the integrity of the information space, and leveraging emerging technologies.  
  • The Democracy Resource Center has expanded its collection of materials to reach and support pro-democracy communities around the world. The library now houses over 27,000 print and digital materials related to the study and practice of democracy.  
  • The Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Program has hosted over 400 fellows from more than 100 countries to conduct independent research to strengthen democratic development in their home communities. The program is a crucial pillar of the Forum’s commitment to international exchange and supporting frontline defenders of democracy working to secure a free and democratic future for all. 
  • The Journal of Democracy is the world’s leading publication on the theory and practice of democracy. Since its inception, the Journal has engaged both activists and intellectuals in critical discussions of the problems of and prospects for democracy around the world. Today, the Journal is at the center of debate on the major social, political, and cultural challenges that confront emerging and established democracies alike. 

As global conditions have changed, the Forum has adapted its work to address some of the most pressing challenges facing democracies. This includes focus on critical global issues such as the integrity of the information space; transnational kleptocracy; emerging technology; and global authoritarian influence. We invite you to learn more about the Forum’s work here 

The Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture on Democracy in the World was inaugurated in 2004 by the International Forum and the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs as an important new forum for discourse on democracy and its progress worldwide. 

The Sharp Power Research Portal, launched in 2021, is a resource hub for journalists, researchers, activists, policymakers, and others interested in understanding how authoritarian powers influence societies and institutions beyond their borders.  

The Power 3.0 blog and podcast are part of the Forum’s multi-media efforts to explore how authoritarian governments in some keys ways have leapfrogged democracies to undermine the international system in an era of globalization.