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Town hall to focus on democracy 


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In these modern times, the question may not be whether democracy is under threat in the U.S., but why – in this era of critical contemporary social, political and economic upheaval in North America, the Asia Pacific and beyond – is democratic backsliding occurring and what can be done about it?

The public is invited to an open town hall meeting, “Contemporary Challenges to Democracy and Democratic Institutions,” on Friday, October 27, 2023, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. The 2023 Fulbright Canada Colloquium Town Hall is the culmination of several days of meetings and related events, including an authors’ workshop designed to produce an edited volume.

Town hall panel participants will include:

  • Davianna McGregor, retired UH Mānoa professor and founding member of the College of Social Sciences’ Department of Ethnic Studies, and former director of the Center for Oral History.
  • Jane Kabubo-Mariara, executive director of the Partnership for Economic Policy based in Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Rana Sarkar, Consul General of Canada in San Francisco/Silicon Valley.
  • Moderator Colin Moore, director of the Matsunaga Institute for Peace at CSS and a political analyst.

The town hall will focus on the critical and increasingly complex challenges to democracy and democratic institutions in the U.S., Canada and the broader international community. It will examine whether creative institutional reforms can help address the following issues:

  • Heightened political and cultural polarization.
  • Widening gaps between people and power.
  • Threats to multi-ethnic democracies.
  • Economic instability.
  • Growing maldistribution of wealth and income.
  • Discontent with democracy.
  • The rise of populism.

Past colloquiums have addressed:

  • In 2018 – The exploration of significant, complex issues surrounding sovereignty, sustainability, and rights of and reconciliation for indigenous peoples.
  • In 2017 – The future of trade and international economic cooperation between Canada and the U.S.
  • In 2016 – The examination and evaluation of North America’s response to domestic and international challenges posed by increasing incidences of violent extremism.

The 2023 Fulbright Canada Colloquium Town Hall is a partnership of CSS; Fulbright Canada; the State University of New York (SUNY) College at Plattsburgh; and the Canadian Consulate in San Francisco.

Coordinating the colloquium are Michael Hawes, president and CEO of the Foundation for Educational Exchange between Canada and the U.S. (aka Fulbright Canada); Denise Eby Konan, CSS dean; and Christopher Kirkey, director of the Center for the Study of Canada at SUNY Plattsburgh.

Light refreshments will be served.

See the website at

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