Essential Questions Discussion Series

The conversations and debates that animated America’s founders in the 18th century reverberate in our national discourse today. The practice of democracy is a continuing process of grappling with questions that will never be fully answered.

Our Essential Questions series, supported in part by The Lowell Institute, consists of in-person and virtual discussions that confront these issues that sit at the heart of the American experiment in self-government.

These six Essential Questions are:

  • Who speaks for me? What is the best way to pick people to represent us? What kind of person can speak for me?
  • How do we define “we” and draw the boundaries of the nation? Who should comprise the body politic when it comes to the right to vote?
  • How is my voice heard? When we raise our voices, what are our responsibilities? Whose voices are privileged? Whose voices are trusted?
  • What is my ultimate recourse if I am silenced or marginalized? What forms of protest are legitimate extralegal pathways?
  • Can we create a stable system of government that won’t descend into tyranny? Do liberty and power always work together for good?
  • What ideals should bind us together as a nation? As a society, what is the set of foundational beliefs that bind us together?

Upcoming Essential Questions Discussions

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Past Essential Questions Discussions