A Message from Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. - Notre Dame Forum 2023-24

Dear Members of the Notre Dame Community,

Here in the United States, democratic norms and institutions have come under attack in recent years. Polarization, partisan animosity, ideological extremism, and social distrust have been on the rise. Large swaths of the voting public have started to doubt the integrity of the electoral process. Americans of all political stripes are worried about the future of our republic.

Beyond the U.S., many have begun to question the value of democracy as a form of government. When the Cold War ended, it seemed certain that the world had taken a democratic turn. But in recent years, many nations have instead turned toward authoritarianism. Yet these authoritarian states have not outperformed their democratic peers in dealing with the increasingly complex challenges facing our world.

Relying upon our expertise in the study of democracy, our commitment to civil discourse, and our convening power, we will dedicate the 2023–24 Notre Dame Forum to exploring “The Future of Democracy.” Our goal is to invite reflection and dialogue among students and scholars across different disciplines on the rising threats to global democracy and to consider how democracy can be reinvigorated in our nation and across the world to meet the challenges of our times.

Since we established the Notre Dame Forum in 2005, each year we have invited a campus-wide dialogue about an issue of importance to the University, the nation, and the world. I invite each of us to consider how we might participate in the exploration of this theme, whether in the context of the classroom, through informal conversations with students and colleagues, or by hosting or attending a Forum event. As has been our practice, my office will host a series of keynote events related to our Forum theme, and we will convene a faculty advisory committee to guide the planning of these events. More information will be forthcoming.

As we enter the busy final weeks of the spring semester, I wish you success in bringing the good work of this academic year to fruition. Know that you and your loved ones are in my prayers in a special way in this Easter season.

In Notre Dame,

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.

April 20, 2023