Our Mission

The Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) at Stanford University is an interdisciplinary center for research on development in all of its dimensions:  political, economic, social, and legal, and the ways in which these different dimensions interact with one another. Since 2002, we seek to understand how countries can overcome poverty, instability, and abusive rule to become prosperous, just, democratic, and well-governed societies.  We also want to analyze the ways in which democracy and development can be threatened by the authoritarian resurgence, technology, populism, and the broader process of globalization.

While CDDRL’s mission centers on research, we also believe that academic knowledge should have practical applications that help to make the world a better place.  Policy engagement is therefore a priority for the Center: our projects provide guidance to practitioners and policymakers around the world and help to shape public discourse and knowledge about issues related to democracy and development through publications, public events, and social media.  This engagement reflects the backgrounds of our faculty, many of whom have had experience in government, civil society, and the private sector as well as in academia.

Finally, we take seriously Stanford University’s educational mission:  our faculty are heavily involved in undergraduate and graduate teaching through the academic departments, and in the Masters in International Policy (MIP) program at FSI.  In addition, CDDRL hosts an interschool Honors Program and runs a series of mid-career programs for professionals around the world, from civil society, government, and the private sector.

CDDRL does not simply seek to study democracy, development and the rule of law; we think these phenomena embed critical values that we believe in and want to promote.  In a time of rapid political and social change, we believe that this mission is more critical than ever.

CDDRL was launched in 2002. Its first director was Coit Blacker, followed by Stephen Krasner, Michael McFaul, Larry Diamond, Francis Fukuyama, and Kathryn Stoner. It is a multi-disciplinary center populated by faculty from Stanford Law and Business Schools and the School of Humanities and Sciences.

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