Democracy: Past, Present & Future

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Biweekly – Week 1 ; Monday ; 2pm – 4pm
Term 1 – via Zoom; Term 2 – Tartu (tbc)     Space Available

Can democracy be saved? Join us for a wide-ranging discussion about democracies, how they flourish and how they fail. We will discuss what differentiates democracies of the past, present and future and what mechanisms are at play that undermine or enhance democracies. How do democracies become dictatorships and how do dictatorships become democracies? How are societal tensions amplified such that democracies are threatened? What is populism and when did it start? Is there a difference between manipulation of the electorate in the past, through propaganda, versus today through data derived from social media and other means? How are the vulnerabilities of democracy undermined today and what can we learn from the past in order to enhance democracies in the future. Each participant will prepare a 20-25 minute presentation leading to a discussion of the topics.


Brian Gaston ( is a retired civil engineer who worked in senior government positions and has had experience in dealing directly with democratically elected politicians.  He is a long-time Academy member volunteering in many areas such as Facilitator, Tech Team Leadership and President.

Priscilla Platt is a retired lawyer who practised Privacy Law for over three decades in both the public and the private sectors.  During her career she wrote and spoke often about privacy and the impact of technology.  As a member of the Academy for three years, she also co-facilitates the Fitness and Aging and Comedy workshops.   

Workshop Notes: