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Canberra Philosophy of Democracy Fund

art work by Mitchell Nolte

What is democracy?

There is no definitive answer to the question.

Scholars have long recognised that "democracy" has many meanings but have not yet provided an empirical, linguistic account of what it is.

Since 2008, Dr Jean-Paul Gagnon of the University of Canberra has been collecting democracy's linguistic artifacts - things like "atomic democracy", "barbaric democracy", "coarse democracy" (that particular catalogue contains over 3500 entries!) - from a wide variety of documented sources.

UC is now home to the world's largest and most comprehensive record of democracy's many different meanings.

What's at stake?

It's widely claimed that we are in times of dire democratic crisis and democratic innovations are springing up to help solve democracy's problems. But our options to fix democracy's problems are limited by how little we know of democracy's seemingly endless variety of ideas and practices, ones that evolved (often independently and not just in human cultures) over time, space, and language.

Democracy's linguistic artefacts are gateways to more innovation, they give us more options to save democracy, to respond to its problems or - depending on how you understand it - bring it to life. It's incredibly important that we bring these artefacts together, for the first time, in one place.

We need to continue filling our databases with linguistic artefacts; then define them, explain them, and share them with the world through free digital information services delivered right here from Canberra - but we can't do this vital work without your help.

To support the fund and contribute to the development of our understanding of democracy, please use the Give Now button at the top of this page.

100% of funds raised will go directly into supporting the research.

Priorities for 2020 include building the world's first open-access:

  • Canberra Library of Democracy
  • Canberra Dictionary of Democracy
  • Canberra Encyclopedia of Democracy

Funds will also support the open-access publishing of the journal Democratic Theory. This publication is solely dedicated to the theories of democracy and is currently ranked in the top 50% of philosophy journals in the world by the 2018 Scimago Index.

To read more about the research, follow these links:

Read the research paper by Dr Gagnon "Descriptions of Democracy” in Democratic Theory.

View the video titled: "A return to basic research in the study of democracy".

Read the blog by Jean-Paul, "There are at least 2,234 expressions of 'democracy' - and the less common versions can teach us a lot".

Please Give Now to the Canberra Philosophy of Democracy Fund.