Almost three decades ago the people of Central and Eastern Europe celebrated the fall of communism and the return of democracy. Today, confidence in liberal democracy is eroding. In Europe, the United States, and indeed, around the world, civil discourse is giving way to the emotional authoritarian rhetoric of populists and nationalists. The post-communist countries of Europe offer an important lens through which to study the reasons for this trend and to to explore how we might rebuild the cultural and moral biosphere of democracy.
Tomas Halik worked in Czechoslovakia during the Communist era as a secretly ordained priest in the underground Church. After 1989 he became an adviser to President Vaclav Havel. Today he is a professor of sociology at Charles University in Prague, laureate of the 2014 Templeton Prize, a member of the European Society of Arts and Sciences, and vice president of the Council for Research in Values and Philosophy. He has lectured at universities on five continents, and his books have been translated into 18 languages. Pope John Paul II appointed him advisor to the Pontifical Council for Dialogue with Non-Believers and Pope Benedict XVI granted him the title of Monsignor - Honorary Prelate of His Holiness. Last year, Oxford university awarded him an honorary doctorate in Divinity.
This event takes place as part of a new initiative entitled "Interferences," a series of events on issues pertinent to democratic politics in the US and Europe. Organized as part of EU Futures, a series of conversations exploring the emerging future in Europe. The EU Futures project is supported by a Getting to Know Europe Grant from the European Commission Delegation in Washington, DC.