Dissent & Democracy

Dartmouth Voices of Dissent

Voices of Courage

Dissent & Democracy 

Our Dissent & Democracy Initiative highlights the ways in which dissent contributes to healthy democracies, and engages Dartmouth students with individuals who courageously take the risk to speak and act out against anti-democratic movements.

Democratic governance is in decline globally, challenged by authoritarian and anti-democratic forces. For citizens who dissent – speak up for human rights or argue against corruption – the costs can be steep: condemnation, harsh penalties, involuntary exile, and threats on their lives. The Dissent & Democracy initiative aims to bring speakers to campus who have demonstrated such courage and offer a human context to help students understand why forms of social governance matter. This also promotes discussion of models of democratic debate and constructive dissent. 

October 2022

Garry Kasparov & Evan Mawarire

We hosted dissidents Garry Kasparov (formerly of Russia) and Evan Mawarire (formerly of Zimbabwe) in person to speak about defending democracy and the repercussions they have faced. 

We have subsequently joined with the student-led Dartmouth Political Union to host additional speakers, including Iranian-American Masih Alinejad and Indian academic Pratap Mehta, and established links to other departments and centers on campus. 

The Dissent & Democracy Initiative also forms part of a larger campus-wide effort to provide space for transformative dialogue. 

"We must set a new example by equipping students - many of whom will be our future leaders - with the tools to navigate discomfort and complexity so that when they inevitably encounter challenges to their ideas and positions, they confront the challenge." President Sian Beilock and President Emeritus Phil Hanlon '77

the courage to speak up

Dissent & Democracy Aims To

  • Expose students to inspiring international individuals who demonstrate the courage to speak up for truth and justice, especially at personal peril and without a guaranteed resolution;
  • Work with students to help develop an ability to listen more deeply, and appreciate speakers who take huge personal risks to speak for political and human rights;
  • Demonstrate to students the meaning of courage to give them perspective on their own place in the world and how they may learn to speak up themselves;
  • Help students interested in these issues to consider how they will work in these areas, and learn more about international affairs;
  • Foster a culture of respect and tolerance for intellectual differences;
  • Collaborate with student-led efforts to host speakers on campus;
  • Increase student understanding of the choices made by those who speak up, including within their own communities; and
  • Strengthen an environment where students recognize that debate is central to a healthy society and governance; helping them see the value in learning to discuss and debate ideas and support a community that welcomes such ideas