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
- Common Threads: Exploring American IdealsBoston’s poet laureate Porsha Olayiwola and local leaders in the cultural and historical landscape explore the enduring question, “What ideals should bind us together as a nation?”Read more →
- Cry Havoc! Legislative Violence in AmericaVIDEO: Explore an iconic artifact from the Revolutionary Spaces’ collection and the legacy of what this American relic symbolizes: violence perpetrated in the hallowed halls of Congress.Read more →
- Violence, Revolution, and MemoryVIDEO | In commemoration of the Boston Massacre, this panel explores political violence, revolution, and memory in a global context.Read more →
- Legacy of the LoyalistsA panel discussion on the legacy of Loyalists. How does the cultural memory of those early Americans left in the shadows transform over time?Read more →
- Preserving All Under Heaven: The Gentrification of ChinatownVIDEO | How can we preserve and empower the voice of the community, its history and its heart, in the face of encroaching development, displacement, and decline of housing?Read more →