Democracy in America

A conversation series on identity, community, memory, public space, and democratic practices

Mural by Salomée Soag, photo by Chris Christian

Our current moment in the United States offers the possibility of reckoning, renewal, and creativity. Meeting this moment requires thoughtful reflection and conversation across the divides, small and large, that separate us. This five-part discussion series facilitated by David Gutterman invites participants to gather together for a series of conversations about the essential elements of what it means to be a democratic citizen in the United States today. Anchored by short readings, videos, and images, our focus will not be on particular public policies or electoral challenges, but rather on the guiding principles, dynamics, and responsibilities of democracy in the United States.

These conversations will take place from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. Pacific on Monday evenings from May 10 through June 7, on Zoom. We hope participants will commit to joining all or most of the series. RSVP here.

  • Week 1: Who? We the People: Who Do We Imagine Ourselves to Be?

  • Week 2: What? What Do We Mean by Democracy?

  • Week 3: Where? Where is Democracy in the United States? Boundaries, Networks, Bridges, and Demographics  

  • Week 4: When? Democratic Time: How Do We Link Past, Present, and Future in the United States?

  • Week 5: How? Democracy Is a Verb—How to Be Democratic?

Facilitator David Gutterman is a professor in the departments of Politics, Policy, Law, and Ethics and Women’s and Gender Studies at Willamette University. He teaches courses on ethics, political theory, religion and politics, and the politics of sex, sexuality, and gender and the politics of the body. His current research explores civil religion, civic engagement, and public space in the United States. David has been involved with Oregon Humanities since 2002, participating in programs, leading discussions, contributing to the magazine, and serving on the board of directors. He lives with his family in Salem.

If you have any questions about this program, please contact Rachel Bernstein at


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