The Center's research agenda is comprised of six core programs that explore some of the most intractable problems and most exciting innovations in the study of development and democracy. The mission of CDDRL is to understand how countries can overcome poverty, instability, and abusive rule to become prosperous, just, democratic, and well-governed states. This concern for the overall trajectory of national development—and for the intricate links among the economic, political, legal, social, and health dimensions of development—sets CDDRL apart from other research centers.
The Program on American Democracy in Comparative Perspective
The program investigates problems with American democracy, including polarization and gridlock, poor governance, and declining trust in government institutions. It also analyzes policy initiatives and institutional reforms that have the greatest potential to address those features of American democracy that are most impairing its performance. An important and distinctive feature of the Program on American Democracy’s work is to study American problems in comparative perspective, with particular attention to the structure and functioning of other established democracies.
Arab Reform and Democracy Program
The Program examines the different social and political dynamics within Arab countries and the evolution of their political systems, focusing on the prospects, conditions and possible pathways for democratic reform in the region. This multidisciplinary program brings together both scholars and practitioners - from the policy making, civil society, NGO (non-government organization), media, and political communities - as well as other actors of diverse backgrounds from the Arab world, to consider how democratization and more responsive and accountable governance might be achieved, as a general challenge for the region and within specific Arab countries.
The Governance Project
The Project seeks to better conceptualize and measure governance. Initially, it will seek to understand how it functions in two societies — the Peoples Republic of China and the United States, and then expand to additional countries. Led by FSI senior fellow and Mosbacher Director of CDDRL Francis Fukuyama, the project begins with the premise that governance is a characteristic of modern polities concerning the delivery of public services that is different from either democratic institutions or the rule of law.
The project seeks to explain the historical processes that underlie populist politics, through an analysis of both domestic and international factors, and deploying a variety of methods. We are examining the diversity of global populisms and the causes behind their rise. The rise of populist politics in numerous countries does not necessarily share the same characteristics or the same causes. The Global Populism project has four broad themes: the diversity of populism, the context of party competition, the role of immigration, and the role of international linkages in fomenting populism.
Program on Poverty and Governance
The Lab carries out research designed to inform policy makers, government agencies, law enforcement institutions and community organizations about the underlying causes of violent crime and its devastating consequences. Our work uses both observational, quasi-experimental and experimental research methods to gain critical insights into the links between criminal violence, law enforcement policies and practices, and the well-being of citizens.