The Center's research agenda is comprised of 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.
The Program on Arab Reform and Democracy
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.
Global Infrastructure Policy Research Initiative
In the developing world, global infrastructure development is increasingly driven by geopolitics, most notably via the Belt and Road Initiative and other bilateral programs. In the West, governments face challenges in modernizing an aging infrastructure stock and reforming outdated institutions, regulations, and policies. This initiative aims to conduct research with clear links to actionable policy changes and practical solutions.
Poverty, Violence, and Governance Lab
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.
Program on Turkey
The Program is a platform for critical analysis and research on politics and society in Turkey. Through research projects, speaker events, and conferences, the Program seeks to provide and facilitate an understanding of the changing internal dynamics and external relations of the country in connection with global and regional developments and highlight potential agents and viable pathways for a democratic and sustainable future.
World House Project
The World House Project is a new initiative of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University, formed in partnership with the Freeman Spogli Institute (FSI) as a part of the Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL). The Project is named after King's allegory of the "World House," a vision of peaceful coexistence, and curates audiovisual resources, produces educational materials, and fosters collaboration between social justice organizations to realize Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision of a just and nonviolent future.