Today there is a robust debate among would-be exporters of liberal democracy who feel chastened by the results of the last 30 years. In the wake of a global rise in illiberalism, there is an urgency to advance an alternate approach. Based on a growing body of research and our own work, we are convinced a more bottom-up approach centered around dignity holds the key to successful institution building. At the same time there is a related debate in development surrounding the practical definition of human dignity. In our view, the modern concept of human dignity not only galvanized the cultural ideal that all people should be considered equal under the law, but it also introduced a widespread belief that autonomous, self-determining agents should enjoy the most freedom possible. Those beliefs shaped our institutions and paved the way for the accelerated, decentralized innovation that is responsible for the material wealth and human flourishing distinctly characteristic of our modern world.
Our aim is to demonstrate this in practice by enabling millions of people to realize their own dignity through increased access to and participation in their legal institutions. Through scholarship and coalition engagement, we will foster a better understanding of the role of human dignity at the root of the legal, political, and economic institutions of liberal democracies. Through strategic grants to local NGOs, we will better demonstrate how dignity-based solutions can achieve lasting change.
We also aim to more effectively reach mainstream audiences of influence with classical liberal views. We will do this by emphasizing the concepts within our work that hold the most universal appeal. For example, we share with diverse audiences a commitment to poverty reduction and an increased appreciation for universal human dignity and agency. Through marketing, storytelling and media, we will increase the centrality of human dignity as the organizing principle of democracy.