Democracy promotion
Visiting Scholar at The Europe Center, 2021-2022

Maciej Potz is a professor of Political Science at the Department of Political Systems, Faculty of International and Political Studies, University of Łódź, Poland. He earned his Ph.D. in 2006 from the Silesian University in Katowice and his post-doctoral degree from the University of Łódź in 2017, both in Political Science. His primary area of interest is religion and politics, with special focus on theocracies (as a Foundation for Polish Science scholar, he studied Shaker and Mormon theocracies in the USA in 2009 and 2012) and political strategies of religious actors in contemporary democracies, especially in Poland and the USA. His other research interests include political theory (especially theory of power and democratic theory), comparative politics and, most recently, evolutionary political science.

Maciej Potz published three monographs: (i) Granice wolności religijnej [The Limits of Religous Liberty] 2008 (2nd ed. 2015), Wrocław: FNP, on religious freedom, church-state relations and confessional politics in the USA; (ii) Amerykańskie teokracje. Źródła i mechanizmy władzy usankcjonowanej religijnie [American Theocracies. The Sources and Mechanisms of Religion-Sanctioned Power] 2016, Łódź: UŁ, theorizing theocracy as a type of a political system and emprically exploring North American theocracies; (iii) Political Science of Religion: Theorizing the Political Role of Religion, 2020, London: Palgrave MacMillan – a theoretical framework for the analysis of religion’s impact on politics. He also authored several journal articles, including in Religion, State and Society, Journal of Political Power, Politics and Religion and Studia Religiologica.

Maciej Potz has taught political science-related courses in the University of Lodz and, as guest lecturer, at other European universities, including University of the West of Scotland in Glasgow, Buskerund College and NTNU (Norway), University of Joensuu (Finland), University of La Laguna (Spain). He participated in a number of international conferences, including “XXI World IAHR Congress in Erfurt (2015), IPSA World Congresses of Political Science in Santiago (2019), Madrid (2012) and Poznań (2016), APSA Annual Meeting (forthcoming in 2021).  

The research project he will be pursuing at Stanford, entitled Costly signaling Under His Eye: explaining the commune longevity puzzle, uses costly signaling theory of religion to explore the determinants of cohesion and longevity of (communitarian) religious groups. It also proposes a novel political interpretation of signaling behavior. Over the next three years, he will head a research team undertaking an empirical study (funded by National Science Centre of Poland) of power and status in Catholic religious orders.


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In 2015, Volodymyr Zelenskyy was at the height of a successful career as an entertainer. Though trained as a lawyer at the Kryvyi Rih Institute of Economics in Eastern Ukraine, the then 37 year old Zelenskyy was a successful comedian and public personality. As the star of the popular TV show, Servant of the People, he played a local history teacher who inadvertently becomes the president of Ukraine following a viral video rant about corruption.

No one watching comedic President Zelenskyy then could have possibly imagined the real-life plot twist that would follow. In an incredible act of life imitating art, in April 2019, Volodymyr Zelenskyy once again stood on stage in front of a cheering crowd, but this time as the actual president of Ukraine.

He won in a landslide election against incumbent president Petro Poroshenko on a platform of systemic change and progress using an almost exclusively virtual campaign. Speaking from his headquarters on election night, he affirmed the exuberance and hope of his supporters: “I can say as a citizen of Ukraine to all countries of the post-Soviet Union: Look at us — everything is possible.”

This same message shaped the theme of President Zelenskyy’s remarks at his historic address from the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) at Stanford University on September 2. The first Ukrainian president to ever visit California, President Zelenskyy, First Lady Olena Zelenska and their delegation joined a group of FSI faculty members led by FSI Director Michael McFaul at an outdoor event held in the Encina Courtyard.

In his remarks, Zelenskyy drew inspiration from Steve Jobs’ famous "How to Live Before You Die" commencement address given at Stanford in 2005.

"This is one of the most famous speeches ever given at Stanford,” he said. “It's about believing in dreams and overcoming the impossible. This is the same as my story. I am just a common guy from a common family from a common industrial town in Eastern Ukraine. Yet here I am today at Stanford, because everything is possible."

He continued, “It is the same for Ukraine. Many people look at us and think that it will be impossible to achieve the goals we hope for. But we know that our critics are wrong. The people of our country love democracy and freedom and will not let threats take those things away. We know that anything is possible."

Looking to the future, Zelenskyy outlined the steps his administration is undertaking to bring increased digitization to Ukraine. These efforts include launching fully electronic passports, moving business and legal services online and expanding the scope of e-goverance. The hope is that this meld of new technology will help curb corruption while simultaneously creating more equitable opportunities and better access to public services for more Ukranians.

Speaking on the ambitious scope of these plans, the president acknowledged, “There will be resistance to the changes and innovations that we are going to make.” Nonetheless, he remains committed to the work ahead of strengthening democratic institutions in Ukraine and building on the progress that has already been made.  “We do not have a ‘Ukrainian Dream,’ yet,” he said. “But we have a ‘Ukrainian Goal’ and a ‘Ukrainian Mission’ to make the future we want for our country.” An edited recording of his remarks is below.

Keeping with Stanford tradition, Zelenskyy took questions from the audience after his prepared remarks. A variety of students and Stanford community members from Russia, Burma, Belarus and beyond had the opportunity to engage the president on a range of issues including U.S.-Ukraine relations, armament sales abroad and concerns over Russian aggression in Crimea and influence Eastern Ukraine. Of particular meaning was Zelensky’s affirmation and support for the democratic movement in Belarus led by Svaitlana Tsikhanouskaya, whom FSI hosted earlier this summer at a faculty roundtable.

Students and faculty alike were appreciative of the president’s candor and good nature in addressing difficult topics.

Following the formal remarks, President Zelenskyy and First Lady Zelenska had an opportunity to meet with Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne in the Memorial Church Courtyard. Prior to leaving, the First Lady also sat down with leaders and students from Stanford's Office of Accessible Education (OAE), an area of interest she would like to support and better develop in Ukraine.

For FSI, the president’s visit was another affirmation of the special connection between Ukraine and the Stanford community. Since 2016, the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law has hosted the Ukrainian Emerging Leaders Program, which provides a 10-month academic training fellowship in support of mid-career practitioners working actively as policy-makers, legal professionals, entrepreneurs and leaders of civil society organizations in Ukraine.

Speaking to this shared history in his opening introductions, FSI Director Michael McFaul emphasized the crucial need for ongoing support and intellectual investment into Ukraine. “The fight for democracy and independence in Ukraine is one of the most important causes in the world today,” he affirmed. “Not just for Ukrainians, but for all who cherish the ideals of democracy, liberty and sovereignty.”

To President Zelenskyy, McFaul extended a future invitation: “You are always welcome back, either as president or in retirement as a professor.”

“With the classes you offer, I will think about it,” Zelenskyy replied with a smile.

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Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya discusses the future of democracy in Belarus with a roundtable of Stanford scholars.

Belarusian Leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya Meets with Stanford Scholars for Roundtable on Democracy in Belarus

Democratic leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and her delegation joined an interdisciplinary panel of Stanford scholars and members of the Belarusian community to discuss the future of democracy in Belarus.
Belarusian Leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya Meets with Stanford Scholars for Roundtable on Democracy in Belarus
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President Zelenskyy outlined the steps his administration is undertaking to bring increased digitization to Ukraine, curb corruption and create more equitable access to public services for more Ukrainians.

Graduate School of Business 655 Knight Way Stanford, CA 94305
(650) 721 1298
Associate Professor of Political Economy, GSB
Associate Professor, by courtesy, of Economics and of Political Science

Along with being a Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Saumitra Jha is an associate professor of political economy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and convenes the Stanford Conflict and Polarization Lab. 

Jha’s research has been published in leading journals in economics and political science, including Econometrica, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the American Political Science Review and the Journal of Development Economics, and he serves on a number of editorial boards. His research on ethnic tolerance has been recognized with the Michael Wallerstein Award for best published article in Political Economy from the American Political Science Association in 2014 and his co-authored research on heroes with the Oliver Williamson Award for best paper by the Society for Institutional and Organizational Economics in 2020. Jha was honored to receive the Teacher of the Year Award, voted by the students of the Stanford MSx Program in 2020.

Saum holds a BA from Williams College, master’s degrees in economics and mathematics from the University of Cambridge, and a PhD in economics from Stanford University. Prior to rejoining Stanford as a faculty member, he was an Academy Scholar at Harvard University. He has been a fellow of the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance and the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics at Princeton University, and at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford. Jha has consulted on economic and political risk issues for the United Nations/WTO, the World Bank, government agencies, and for private firms.


Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Dan C. Chung Faculty Scholar at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Senior Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research
CDDRL Research Affiliate
Affiliated faculty at The Europe Center

On January 13, 2016 for the first time in its history the European Union launched an investigation against one of its full member states, i.e. Poland. The dispute is about new Polish laws that allegedly disempower the national constitutional court and the public media thus breaching EU democracy standards. The newly elected Polish government in charge since November 2015 denies this and calls its “reforms” legitimate, even necessary to achieve a government better capable of acting in order to renew the economy and the political and social system. The dispute reaches far beyond Poland and questions the state and perspectives of integration of the Central Eastern European (CEE) nations into the EU. It is both effect and motor of the current pluri-­‐dimensional European crisis.

In essence, the EU-­‐Poland dispute is the outcome of the combination of the specific problems of governance in the Central Eastern European (CEE) nations with a superficial institutionalism of the EU that long neglected the area’s developmental issues. Poland’s democracy problems show that new attention of the EU to its CEE member states is needed which were for many years ignored because of other concerns such as the economic and financial crises since 2007 and the subsequent debt crisis since 2012, latest because of the threat of a “Brexit”, of Britain leaving the EU. In order to save the European integration project, it will be crucial for the credibility and acceptance of the EU to help the CEE nations to reform their socio-­‐economic systems. The case of Poland is the chance for a debate about how the EU and its CEE member states can cooperate better instead of arguing. This debate will be an important pillar of the ongoing overall discussion about the future of the European Union in the coming years.

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Roland Benedikter
Ireneusz Pawel Karolewski

The Pussy Riot protest, and the subsequent heavy handed treatment of the protestors, grabbed the headlines, but this was not an isolated instance of art being noticeably critical of the regime. As this book, based on extensive original research, shows, there has been gradually emerging over recent decades a significant counter-culture in the art world which satirises and ridicules the regime and the values it represents, at the same time putting forward, through art, alternative values. The book traces the development of art and protest in recent decades, discusses how art of this kind engages in political and social protest, and provides many illustrations as examples of art as protest. The book concludes by discussing how important art has been in facilitating new social values and in prompting political protests.

Lena Jonson is Associate Research Fellow at UI. Her research currently focuses on Russian domestic politics and issues of political and societal change (modernisation) as well as the contemporary role of culture and its standing in Russia.

Lena Jonson has published several articles and works examining Russian society and politics (mainly foreign and security policy), Russia's relations with Europe and Russian relations with the former Soviet territories. She has also published widely on Central Asia, and on Tajikistan in particular. 

Lena Jonson is one of the founders of the network "Sällskapet för studier av Ryssland, Central-och Östeuropa samt Centralasien" (1997) and was its first chairperson. She has been a guest researcher at George Washington University and the Kennan Institute at the Wilson Centre, as well as a scholarship recipient at the universities of (then) Leningrad and Moscow. From 2005-2009, she served as Cultural Attaché at the Swedish Embassy in Moscow. In 2002, she worked as a Political Officer at the OSCE-office i Dushanbe, Tajikistan. In 1997-1998, she was a Senior Researcher at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London.

Sponsored by the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies and co-sponsored by The Europe Center.

Lena Jonson Associate Research Fellow Speaker Swedish Institute of International Affairs (UI)

The 2008 global financial crisis came with fears - and, for some, hopes of a new wave of public mobilisation in industrialised countries. Large protests were particularly expected in the epicentre of the crisis, the European Union. Yet, the force with which social groups garnered their calls for strikes ebbed quickly away. Gerald Schneider provides new evidence for why this was the case. He claims that strikes, and particularly political strikes, are 'bad weather' phenomena and crises exacerbate them. In monetary unions, where currency adjustments are difficult, fiscal changes are not supported by easing monetary measures and should unchain social unrest unless supranational actors get involved. Schneider argues that the political actions of the European Central Bank (ECB) have countered the potential for strikes in the Eurozone. He provides evidence for his theory with yearly panel data and a new original data  set of monthly strikes between 2001 and 2013. His analyses support the thesis that the EU institution was successful at attenuating social indignation over the Eurocrisis and its political fallout.

This paper is based on co-authored work with Dr. Federica Genovese (Essex) and Pia Wassmann (Hannover).

Professor Gerald Schneider, University of Konstanz

Gerald Schneider is Professor of International Politics and Executive Editor of “European Union Politics”. His main areas of research are European Union decision making, the causes and consequences of armed violence, the international political economy of financial markets, bargaining and conflict management.

Schneider defended his doctoral thesis at the University of Zurich in 1991, worked as post-doc at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) for two years and was an assistant professor (1992 – 1995) at the Institut universitaire de hautes études internationales in Geneva. Before joining the faculty at Konstanz in 1997, he was a Professor of Political Science at the University of Stuttgart (1996-1997) and Program Director at the University of Berne (1994 – 1997). Gerald Schneider has also been visiting scholar at Università Bocconi (Visiting Research Professor), Charles University Prague, Harvard University, University of Kobe, Sciences Po Paris (Grosser Chair) and Università Siena. He has published around 150 articles in various journals and volumes. Schneider is President of the European Political Science Association (2013-2015) and was also in 2003-2004 Vice President of the International Studies Association, and served as Program Chair for the 50th annual convention in New York City in 2009. Schneider has acted as a consultant and referee for various organizations, including the World Bank and the U.S. National Science Foundation. He has served for various selection committees of the the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation since 2007 and was a member of the scientific board of the Swiss Network of International Studies (2008-2013). Besides his native German, Schneider speaks English, French and survives in Italian and Danish.

The Eurotower Strikes Back: Crises, Adjustments and Europe's Austerity Protests
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Gerald Schneider Professor of International Politics Speaker Universität Konstanz, Germany
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Propelled by the need to develop new and more productive avenues of communication among scholars and policy-makers based in Europe, North America, and the Middle East, in 2010 the Europe Center at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute agreed to launch the multi-year collaborative project titled "Debating History, Democracy, Development, and Education in Conflicted Societies." Our joint initiative aims to promote research and policy projects with partners in Europe, the U.S., and the Middle East.

Viewed in an international context, with a focus on Europe and the Middle East, this collaborative project investigates how societies debate internally and attempt to reconcile differences of historical interpretation and political positions.  The first conference took place at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, and was dedicated to “Democracy in Adversity and Diversity” (May 18-19, 2011). Topics for the conference included democracy in comparative perspective, political reform, the notion and strategies of democracy promotion, regime transition, negotiating religion and democracy, immigration challenges, minorities and East-West relations, emergence or recovery of civil society, the role of non-governmental organizations in democratic societies, and human rights. 

The next conference, at Stanford University May 17-18, 2012 aims to deepen our understanding of the interplay between history and memory. Given the extensive discussion of memory and history across a variety of disciplines in recent decades, we would like to take stock of our current understanding of the concepts of memory and history as they affect society, politics and culture.  At the same time we wish to examine in what ways insights gained in the course of this cross-disciplinary and global discussion may be effective when considering the circumstances of the Middle East, especially the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We are inviting new, innovative approaches to the study of memory and history as they affect different societies. We especially welcome contributions that engage the concepts of memory and history comparatively. Our goal is to advance beyond restating examples of conflicts between versions of history, and to seek new paths of research that may further the work in various cases, and also potentially offer guidance for engaging particular international and civil conflicts.

The questions that we seek to address at the conference include, among others:

  • How do we understand the historians’ role and engagement in political and cultural conflicts about the past and present?
  • What are the historians’ responsibilities in developing shared narratives about war, civil conflict, occupation, and genocide?
  • How do we understand the relation between the work of professional historians and that of civic society organizations?
  • How do we understand the roles and interplay of history and memory in efforts towards reconciliation?
  • How should one think about the relative importance of historical commissions and truth commissions in “coming to terms with the past.”
  • What is the relationship between the historian’s work on international and domestic conflict and that of judicial institutions?
  • How do efforts in post-conflict situations to reach accurate assessments (“truth”) of the events meet the needs of healing social, ethnic, and/or religious wounds (“reconciliation”)?
  • How do we understand the effectiveness, necessity, and/or legitimacy of remembering and forgetting in models of reconciliation?
  • What are the consequences and meaning of actions of forgiveness, including the formal granting of amnesty? Do these actions conflict with the writing of history?

The conference committee consists of Norman Naimark (Core faculty member of The Europe Center at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and the Robert and Florence McDonnell Professor in East European Studies at Stanford), Yfaat Weiss (Director, The Franz Rosenzweig Minerva Research Center for German-Jewish Literature and Cultural History at Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Gabriel Motzkin (Director, The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute), and Amir Eshel (Director, The Europe Center and Edward Clark Crossett Professor of Humanistic Studies at Stanford).

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616 Jane Stanford Way
Stanford, CA 94305

Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Director of the Ford Dorsey Master's in International Policy
Research Affiliate at The Europe Center
Professor by Courtesy, Department of Political Science

Francis Fukuyama is the Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), and Director of the Ford Dorsey Master's in International Policy.  He is also a professor (by courtesy) of Political Science. From 2015 to 2021, he served as the Mosbacher Director of FSI's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL).

Dr. Fukuyama has written widely on issues in development and international politics.  His 1992 book, The End of History and the Last Man, has appeared in over twenty foreign editions.  His most recent book, Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, was published in Sept. 2018.  His next book, Liberalism and Its Discontents, will be published in the spring of 2022.

Francis Fukuyama received his B.A. from Cornell University in classics, and his Ph.D. from Harvard in Political Science.  He was a member of the Political Science Department of the RAND Corporation,  and of the Policy Planning Staff of the US Department of State.  From 1996-2000 he was Omer L. and Nancy Hirst Professor of Public Policy at the School of Public Policy at George Mason University, and from 2001-2010 he was Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University.  He served as a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics from 2001-2004. 

Dr. Fukuyama holds honorary doctorates from Connecticut College, Doane College, Doshisha University (Japan), Kansai University (Japan), and Aarhus University (Denmark), and the Pardee Rand Graduate School.  He is a non-resident fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and at the Center for Global Development.  He is a member of the Board of Governors of the Pardee Rand Graduate School and the Volcker Alliance.  He is a member of the American Political Science Association and the Council on Foreign Relations.  He is married to Laura Holmgren and has three children.

September 2021


European and American experts systematically compare U.S. and EU strategies to promote democracy around the world -- from the Middle East and the Mediterranean, to Latin America, the former Soviet bloc, and Southeast Asia. In doing so, the authors debunk the pernicious myth that there exists a transatlantic divide over democracy promotion.

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Palgrave McMillan Press
Amichai Magen
Amichai Magen
Michael A. McFaul
Michael A. McFaul
Thomas Risse

Encina Hall
616 Jane Stanford Way
Stanford, CA 94305-6055

Director, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Ken Olivier and Angela Nomellini Professor of International Studies, Department of Political Science
Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution

Michael McFaul is Director at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, the Ken Olivier and Angela Nomellini Professor of International Studies in the Department of Political Science, and the Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He joined the Stanford faculty in 1995.

Dr. McFaul also is as an International Affairs Analyst for NBC News and a columnist for The Washington Post. He served for five years in the Obama administration, first as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council at the White House (2009-2012), and then as U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation (2012-2014).

He has authored several books, most recently the New York Times bestseller From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia. Earlier books include Advancing Democracy Abroad: Why We Should, How We Can; Transitions To Democracy: A Comparative Perspective (eds. with Kathryn Stoner); Power and Purpose: American Policy toward Russia after the Cold War (with James Goldgeier); and Russia’s Unfinished Revolution: Political Change from Gorbachev to Putin.

His current research interests include American foreign policy, great power relations, and the relationship between democracy and development. Dr. McFaul was born and raised in Montana. He received his B.A. in International Relations and Slavic Languages and his M.A. in Soviet and East European Studies from Stanford University in 1986. As a Rhodes Scholar, he completed his D. Phil. in International Relations at Oxford University in 1991. He is currently writing a book on great power relations in the 21st century.



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