Jeffrey Rosen, head of the National Constitution Center. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL CONSTITUTION CENTER

Institute to explore American democracy

BAR HARBOR — A weeklong, public forum of ideas examining the future of American democracy will take place this summer at College of the Atlantic’s inaugural Champlain Institute.

Curated around a different topic each year, the COA Champlain Institute invites scholars, writers and thought leaders to weigh in on the most pressing issues of our time. For the summer 2017 series, noted legal commentator and law professor Jeffrey Rosen will lead a deep look at the future of American democracy. The institute opens Monday, July 31, and runs through Friday, Aug. 4, and all events are free and open to the public.

“New Yorker” magazine Washington correspondent Ryan Lizza kicks off the 2017 institute with “The Press and the Future of American Democracy” on Monday, July 31. Lizza, also an on-air contributor for CNN, has covered most of the country’s major political stories since 1988, including the last four presidential campaigns. He holds the 2012 National Press Club Hood Award for Diplomatic Correspondence, among many other awards.

Rosen, who is the president and CEO of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, will lead a Coffee and Conversation discussion the following morning with Lauren Coyle entitled “What Can Anthropology Teach Us about the Future of American Democracy?” Coyle is an assistant professor of anthropology at Princeton University. Her research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of legal and political anthropology.

Michael Gerhardt will present “The Constitution and the Future of American Democracy” on Wednesday, Aug. 2. Gerhardt, the Samuel Ashe Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, has specialized in constitutional conflicts and been active as a special counsel, scholar, adviser, expert witness and public commentator on all the major conflicts between presidents and Congress over the past quarter century.

Kenji Toshino will discuss “The Future of Equality in American Democracy” on Thursday morning, Aug. 3. Yoshino is the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at NYU School of Law. He has published broadly in scholarly journals and is the author of “Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights” and “A Thousand Times More Fair: What Shakespeare’s Plays Teach Us about Justice.”

Rosen’s capstone address, “What Would Madison Think of American Democracy Today?”, is set for Friday, Aug. 4. In Federalist Paper no. 51, James Madison “worries about how to create institutions which would check personal ambition and the ‘encroachment’ of one branch of government by the other” (Liberty Project). Rosen will discuss Madison’s papers, the separation of powers and the checks and balances that support our democracy.

Rosen is a professor of law at The George Washington University Law School and a commentator on legal affairs. A graduate of Harvard College, Oxford University and Yale Law School, Rosen is a contributing editor for “The Atlantic” and has been legal affairs editor at “The New Republic,” a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a contributor to the “New York Times Magazine.” He is “the nation’s most widely read and influential legal commentator,” according to legal historian David Garrow.

The College of the Atlantic Champlain Institute is an annual, weeklong, public forum for ideas and conversations around a curated topic. Visit or email Lynn Boulger at [email protected]

Visit COA’s online calendar at for other summer events.

College of the Atlantic is the first college in the U.S. to focus on the relationship between humans and the environment. In 2016, both The Princeton Review and the Sierra Club named College of the Atlantic the No. 1 Green College in the United States. The intentionally small school of 350 students and 35 faculty members offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in human ecology – the study of how humans interact with our natural, social and technological environments. Each student develops their own course of study in human ecology, collaborating and innovating across multiple disciplines.

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