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Baker Peace Conference to focus on 'Democracy in Decline?' on Feb. 22-23

Ohio University's Contemporary History Institute will host the 2024 Baker Peace Conference, themed “Democracy in Decline? The Politics of Pluralism, Participation, and Populism,” on Feb. 22-23.

The conference, a spring staple at Ohio University since the 1980s, returns with a keynote address by Leopoldo Lopez on Thursday, Feb. 22, at 7:30 p.m. in Galbreath Chapel.

A Venezuelan political leader, pro-democracy activist, Sakharov prize laureate, and founder and national coordinator of the Voluntad Popular political party, Lopez was political prisoner from 2014 to 2020 after being sentenced to 14 years in prison for leading non-violent street protests and civil resistance in 2014. After spending seven years in confinement, he managed to escape in October of 2020 and was able to travel to Spain, where he lives with his family and serves as the co-founder of the World Liberty Congress.

On Friday, Feb. 23, the conference will feature two panels, each with four speakers, in the Friends of the Library Room, Alden Library room 319. The first panel will take place from 10 a.m. - noon and feature experts on Brazil, Thailand, South Africa and the United Kingdom. The second panel will take place from 3-5 p.m. and feature experts on France, Germany, Hungary and Poland.

Coffee and other refreshments will be available to attendees throughout the day on Friday.

2023 Baker Peace Conference schedule

Thursday, Feb 22 (Galbreath Chapel)

Keynote Address by Leopoldo Lopez

Friday, Feb 23 (Friends of the Library Room, Alden Library room 319)

Panel 1: Brazil, Thailand, South Africa and the United Kingdom


  • Dr. Filipe Campante: A political economist following Brazilian and Latin American politics, Dr. Campante is Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University (SAIS and Carey Business School).
  • Jeffrey Shane: An expert on contemporary Thai politics and history, Mr. Shane is Ohio University’s Southeast Asia Librarian.
  • Dr. Miles Taylor: Dr. Taylor is the Chair of British History and Society at Humboldt University’s Center for British Studies in Berlin.
  • Michael Walsh: An expert on South African politics, Mr. Walsh is a Senior Fellow in the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Africa Program.

Panel 2: France, Germany, Hungary, Poland


  • Aaron G. Burnett: Mr. Burnett is a German-Canadian news journalist, communications strategist, and German-politics analyst based in Berlin.
  • Marie Jourdain: Ms. Jourdain is a non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Europe Center, a position that she took up after working for the French Ministry of Defense.
  • Krisztina Koenen: Ms. Koenen is a Hungarian-born journalist, writer, and translator who writes primarily about Hungarian affairs.
  • Zofia Kostrzewa: Ms. Kostrzewa, a program coordinator for the Warsaw office at the European Council on Foreign Relations, writes primarily about Polish politics.
February 13, 2024
Staff reports