Monday, February 21, 2022

“Corruption, the Rise of Populism, and the Future of Democracy" is a three-day symposium bringing together leading corruption and anti-corruption scholars from across disciplines and geographic areas. Organized by the Department of Political Science, with funding from an International Programs Major Projects Award, speakers from around the globe will engage in an open dialogue about the challenges that corruption and populism pose to good governance and democracy globally.

The symposium opens with a special edition of WorldCanvass on March 31, followed by two days (April 1 & 2) of panel discussions. 

In recent decades, corruption has emerged as a powerful call to arms: from the Arab Spring in the Middle East, to the Occupy Movement in the United States and the Color Revolutions in Eastern Europe, grassroots anti-corruption protests have swept across the globe, destabilizing many non-democratic regimes and threatening others.

Despite the initial enthusiasm of the international community, however, this surge had an unexpected side effect of helping autocratic-leaning populist politicians ascend to power in countries as diverse as Brazil, Hungary, Turkey, Russia, and the United States. Populist leaders often position themselves as outsiders to the established systems of power where corruption is, allegedly, entrenched. In recent years, a number of right-wing strongmen came to power on the promise of cleaning up the government and undoing the corruption schemes of the incumbents. When in office, many also subvert the anti-corruption efforts by selectively targeting the political opposition: claiming ownership over anti-corruption allows populist leaders to tighten their hold on power while permitting their allies' corruption to flourish.

Free and open to the public, all events will be held both in person as well as virtually - please register to attend via Zoom.

For a full schedule of symposium events, visit the symposium website.

Funding for this Major Project was provided by the Stanley-University of Iowa Foundation Support Organization.

This event is hosted by the UI Department of Political Science with support from UI International Programs; the UI College of Law; the UI Department of Sociology and Criminology; the UI Public Policy Center; and the UI Center for Human Rights.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events.  If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Sarolta Petersen in advance at or 319-335-3862.