AUA College of Humanities and Social Sciences Hosts Talk on Why Democracies Fail and How They Can Succeed

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YEREVAN, Armenia – On February 8th, The American University of Armenia (AUA) College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) hosted professor emeritus John Dunn, who was on a visit to Armenia as part of the British Embassy’s British Alumni Guest Speaker project. 

Professor Dunn spoke on why democracies can fail as clearly and badly as other forms of regime. He said that it is important to recognize frankly how they can and why they then do, which can then help in identifying realistically why they can succeed in ways no other sorts of regime can and what exactly can enable them to so.

According to him, to see why democracy succeeds or fails, one must first recognize what democracy is. All governments govern with varying skill and dedication in face of the challenges of their society. Democracy is not a reliable chooser of skill or dedication. The challenges which confront every regime in the world today are huge and urgent. Democracy can fail like any other regime in face of most of these challenges. It fails especially thoroughly when it fails to educate its own citizens. In democracies citizens choose or reject those who lead them. They give power and they take it away. For democracy to succeed its citizens must do each widely and they must be lucky in the choices they have to make.

Professor emeritus of Political Theory at King’s College in Cambridge, England, John Dunn has spent the last 25 years tracing the complex trajectory of democracy, as an idea and as a practice. Professor Dunn’s work focuses on applying a historical perspective to modern political theory. His early reputation was based upon the careful reconstruction of the political thought of John Locke. One of the founders of the Cambridge School of Political Thought, today he is recognized as one of the foremost theorists in Europe, being chosen as one of only three political philosophers in John Naughton’s list of Britain’s top intellectuals. His books include titles such as “The Cunning of Unreason” and “Setting the People Free: The Story of Democracy”.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides US-style education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.

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