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UVa kicks off discussion series with hopes of constructive discourse

If it seems like there’s a lack of informed and intelligent debate in politics these days, the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics is hoping to change that impression with its new Democracy Dialogues series.

Larry Sabato, a nationally known political pundit and the center’s director, will host the first installment in its series Wednesday at 6 p.m.. The virtual, two-hour event will be streamed live from the Rotunda.

Participants can register to attend at and submit questions in advance or just watch the livestream at

The event is the first of UVa’s Democracy Dialogues series designed to offer “informed, intelligent, and constructive discussion” of issues important to American democracy and democracy worldwide, officials said.

The series will feature experts from the university as well as beyond with the hopes of fostering healthy debate on important issues.

“Join us for a civil discussion with a wide variety of public people,” Sabato said. “We’ll try to make sense of this time of upheaval and transition in our democratic Republic.”

The Wednesday event features discussions of current major political issues and will feature former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin; Virginia U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, who was also the 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee; CBS News Face the Nation moderator and UVa graduate Margaret Brennan; CNN anchor Don Lemon; and Christopher Krebs, a UVa graduate who until recently headed up the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and oversaw election security measures.

Political commentator Paul Begala and Center for Politics resident scholar and political commentator Tara Setmayer will also join the group.

“Our goal is to make UVa the leading place in the country to study, teach and sustain democracy,” said UVa President Jim Ryan, who is also a program sponsor. “These dialogues will help us do that by bringing in experts with different perspectives to discuss some of the most important issues of the day.”

The Institute of Democracy is a University-wide collaboration that includes the Arts and Sciences Democracy Initiative, the Center for Politics, the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, the Karsh Center for Law and Democracy, the Miller Center of Public Affairs, the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership and the Weldon Cooper Center.


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