Center for Democratic Studies

The University of Haifa

Founder and director: Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor

The Haifa Center for Democratic Studies aims to promote awareness and understanding of civic culture in democracy. Recognizing the growing need to secure the foundations of democracy and to facilitate conditions for pluralism, the Center has established a national and international forum for deliberation and discussion. It focuses on the role of ethics, accountability and justice in all spheres of public life: politics; economy; culture; academy; business; law; media and medicine. 


The Center’s purposes include the strengthening of democratic values such as active participation in public life, professional ethics, accountability for one’s actions, multiculturalism, diversity, and civic equality. The Center pays attention to the abuse of power and violation of basic human rights. It encourages an open debate on the vital importance of freedom of expression, in its broad sense, in democratic life. The term ‘free expression’ includes freedom of assembly, freedom to demonstrate and to picket, free media, artistic freedom, and academic freedom. At the same time, the Center aims to increase public awareness of the need to set boundaries to liberty and tolerance. We are living in an era of political violence and extremism, and we need to find ways to overcome the antidemocratic forces that seem to go from strength to strength. We must find ample ways for tackling antidemocratic phenomena that aim at the destruction of democracy. On this front the Center sees an urgent need for education on all levels: primary schools, high schools and universities.

To achieve these ends, the Center does the following:

* Conduct national and international conferences, each dedicated to a different topic, such as equality; media ethics; multiculturalism; medical ethics; business ethics; free speech; civic participation; professional ethics; feminism, etc.

* Publish, and help to publish, papers, articles and books in Hebrew and English whose subject matters lie within the frame of reference described supra.

* Co-operate with the Ministry of Education and pertinent NGOs to increase awareness and improve education of democratic studies at all levels of school education.

* Develop a broad curriculum of recent history and civics, empowering democratic education.

* Operate an extensive website describing the activities of the centre, with links to the sites of the above centers.


The Center aims to do the following:

* Establish The Journal of Ethics, Law and Society.

* Hold annual competitions on themes that deal with ethics and democratic studies in all three levels of education, primary schools, high schools and universities

* Sponsoring of debating societies in high schools, aspiring to hold the finals on national television.

* Found Researchers Exchange Programs between the University of Haifa and other universities in the world.

* Found Student Exchange Programs between the University of Haifa and selected universities all over the world. We would like to have students from universities, such as Harvard, Yale, Chicago and Berkeley in Haifa and would like to give our finest students the opportunity to study in those institutions. In addition, excellent students of Latin-American universities who are interested in Middle East studies could visit the Center for a limited period of time (one or two semesters), while Israeli students interested in Latin-American studies might visit corresponding universities. The students will be selected on a competitive basis.


The Center for Democratic Studies necessitates for its effective operations an endowment fund in the amount of at least $1,000,000. The donor of this sum will be entitled to name the Center with an appropriate name of her or his choosing. In addition, donors may fund individual projects:

* Exchange Program Fund for researchers and students ($200,000 per annum)

* Annual competitions in schools ($50,000 per annum)

* Sponsoring of debating societies ($50,000 per annum)

* Conferences ($40,000 each)

* Publication of the International Journal of Ethics, Law and Society ($40,000 per annum)

* The Annual Isaiah Berlin Lecture. ($30,000 each)

* Scholarships ($30,000 per annum)

* Publications ($30,000 per annum)

* Prizes for excellent papers of schools’ pupils ($10,000 per annum)