THE ANDREA MITCHELL CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF DEMOCRACY was founded through a donation from Andrea Mitchell in 2017. This donation transformed what had been Penn’s Program on Democracy, Citizenship, and Constitutionalism (DCC), enabling the mission of that organization to be dramatically expanded as well as permanently supported.
The Mitchell Center's programming includes:
An Annual Workshop Series on a Theme. Through monthly events involving leading scholars and other thought leaders from around the world, the Mitchell Center each year investigates a topic central to the study of democracy. In 2019-20, the series was "Reverberations of Inequality"; in 2018-19, it was “Democracy in Trouble?” The proceedings from each annual there typically are published in an edited volume from Penn Press.
The Graduate Workshop Series. Here advanced graduated students from a wide spectrum of academic disciplines present ongoing scholarly research before a diverse audience of faculty, students, and members of the public. Events are monthly. Presenters are not limited to Penn students, as approximately half are graduate students at other universities.
The Political Union Debates. Here the Mitchell Center teams up with the Penn Political Union (PPU), an undergraduate organization that engages in parliamentary-style deliberation on contemporary issues. To represent a wide spectrum of political opinion, students are members of five different political parties: libertarian, conservative, independent, liberal, and progressive. The Mitchell Center sponsors monthly debates, often featuring prominent public figures from journalism, politics, public policy, and academia who debate the undergraduate political parties before a public audience.
The Politics on the Edge Lecture Series. Through this initiative, leading figures from diverse fields are invited to share opinions and ideas that push the boundaries of political thinking, whether because of their topicality, trenchant criticism, or simple excellence. Events are hosted at Penn’s Philomathean Society, an intellectual society in operation for more than two centuries.
The Race and Politics Series. This initiative is conducted in partnership with Penn’s Black Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (BGAPSA) to hold public events and promote critical conversations about race and racism, both in the United States and throughout the world. The Race and Politics Series strives to bring together diverse communities, inclusive of all race-related affinity groups on campus, to engage in cross-cultural and interdisciplinary discussion about important and sometimes controversial issues pertaining to the role of race in democratic politics.
The Capitalism/Socialism/Democracy Series. This initiative invites scholars to present work on democracy as it relates to capitalist, socialist, or other economic ideologies. It seeks to address the intellectual and political question of whether any discussion of democracy lacks reality if not connected to fundamental issues of economic organization. And it investigates the role of commerce and markets as essential contributors, for good or ill, to the health of democratic societies.
In addition to these programs, the Mitchell Center promotes scholarship regarding democracy through the funding of four fellowships:
The Mitchell Center Postdoctoral Fellowship is awarded each year to a scholar in any discipline who has received a doctorate within the last five years and is conducting research pertinent to the annual theme of the upcoming fellowship year. Mitchell Center Postdoctoral Fellows teach one course in the School of Arts and Sciences and assist Mitchell Center Undergraduate Grant Recipients.
The Mitchell Center / Jack Miller Center Fellowship: Supported by a grant from the Jack Miller Center, this postdoctoral fellowship provides up to two years of funding to a recent Ph.D. whose scholarship focuses on the principles of the American founding, American political development, or American constitutionalism more generally. Fellows teach one course in the School of Arts and Sciences and assist Mitchell Center Undergraduate Grant Recipients.
Three Mitchell Center Graduate Fellowships are awarded each year to post-prospectus Penn graduate students whose research is relevant to the study of democratic politics. The Mitchell Center Graduate Fellows organize the Graduate Workshop Series in which graduate students from Penn and other institutions present their research.
Ten Mitchell Center Undergraduate Research Grants are awarded each spring to undergraduates for research projects related to the study of democracy. The Undergraduate Research Grant recipients participate in a year-long research seminar during the following year and conclude by presenting their work at a public conference.