UM’s Hanley Democracy Center set to transform civil discourse

The George P. Hanley Democracy Center sign welcomes students to the 110 Campo Sano suite that houses the center. Photo credit: Jenny Jacoby

In the face of unprecedented political challenges that threaten the integrity of democratic institutions, the University of Miami is establishing a democracy center to promote discourse on imperative topics and foster research opportunities for faculty and students

The George P. Hanley Democracy Center (HDC), instituted through UM’s fundraising campaign Ever Brighter: The Campaign for Our Next Century, was imagined by entrepreneur and philanthropist George P. Hanley.

Hanley, a financier who has demonstrated involvement in many successful financial industries in Miami and beyond, is committed to creating a space that invests in the education and mentorship of young adults.

For Hanley, this includes establishing spaces where students and faculty can come together to engage in pivotal discussions around politics and the future of democracy at home and abroad.

“People need to have civil discourse,” Hanley said to News@TheU. “I find that when I have civil discourse with people, we are much closer in views than the cable news shows would have us believe. This is a center to look at different ways of thinking and to bring people together. Because at the end of the day, we are all Americans.”

In addition to providing faculty with research grants to explore topics in democratic politics and challenges to democracy, the center will also employ student interns that will help further the center’s mission.

Carly Payne, a senior majoring in political science and journalism, is working as a media coordinator for the political science department and is helping HDC interns in their communications efforts.

“The George P. Hanley Democracy Center cultivates understanding of democratic governance within the United States and around the globe,” Payne said, highlighting the key purposes of the institution. “It promotes research on the rules, history and practice of democracy by distributing grants and hosting conferences.”

The center, which will be housed in the College of Arts and Sciences, will collaborate closely with the Department of Political Science and other universities, offering a variety of opportunities for students.

“As a student I’m excited to see this brought to UM,” Payne said. “Many other campuses have such centers and they do fantastic work to help students find internships and pursue research opportunities.”

While the center itself is still in its early stages of planning, it has already taken several steps to ensure student involvement for the future.

“One of the priorities of the center is to promote an understanding of democracy among the students. One way for students to get involved is to become interns for the center–this semester we have three interns, and they’ve been incredibly helpful in setting up the center and launching some of its programs,” said Gregory Koger, Chairman of the center and professor of political science.

Student interns with the center that have worked to compile a list of internships and funding opportunities for students.

The public affairs internship database, organized by Criscola, includes a list of available internships in Congress and other government organizations as well as housing options in Washington D.C. and sources of funding for internships.

Those interested in political science and fields related to public affairs can take a look at the database here.

“We encourage University of Miami students to become civically engaged, providing the information needed for professional learning experience within government, non-profit organizations, and interest groups around the nation, as well as global organizations,” a junior political science major Antonella Criscola said.

The dedication ceremony for the center will take place on Thursday, March 2 at 3 p.m. and will feature remarks by President Julio Frenk and College of Arts and Sciences Dean Leonidas Barchas.

Students can also follow @HanleyDemocracyCenterUM on Instagram for updates on events hosted by the center and internship opportunities.