Skip navigation

Canberra Philosophy of Democracy Fund

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 has been collecting democracy's linguistic artefacts - 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.

Statues of the Democracy Project

The Foundation for the Philosophy of Democracy collects and studies the thousands of different meanings that have been attributed to the word democracy over time, space, and language.

It does this work to provide humanity with more, and better, tools to response to the troubles of our times through democratic means.

The statues of democracy project serves to celebrate the diversity of democracy's meanings and to draw attention to the recurring fact that we actually know rather little of democracy's complicated pasts and future potentials.

The aim of this project is to re-purpose statues from the Canberra Greenshed and broader community and for our statues to be hosted by partners around Canberra.

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.


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 per cent of philosophy journals in the world by the 2018 Scimago Index.


Other quick links