Cynthia Farrar is an independent scholar and civic entrepreneur who brings her understanding of ancient Athenian democratic theory and practice to the challenge of engaging citizens as full partners in American democracy.
She is the author of The Origins of Democratic Thinking: the invention of politics in classical Athens (1988); and articles on ancient democracy, including “Power to the People” (2007), "Taking Our Chances with the Ancient Athenians" (2009); and “Putting History in its Place: Plato, Thucydides, and the Athenian Politeia,” (2013). She also co-authored “ Disaggregating Deliberation's Effects: An Experiment within a Deliberative Poll” (2010) and “Does Discussion Group Composition Affect Policy Preferences? Results from Three Randomized Experiments” (2009).
Every aspect of her varied career as a civic entrepreneur - engaging residents in local planning, organizing regional deliberations, and digital storytelling -- is anchored in a commitment to building a more inclusive and participatory democracy. As a Research Scholar at Yale University’s Institution for Social and Policy Studies, she established the New Haven Citizens Forum (2001-2007), and worked with James Fishkin, MacNeil/Lehrer Productions and public television stations around the country to orchestrate non-partisan conversations among randomly-invited citizens.
In 2007, she co-founded Purple States TV, to use video storytelling to bring the voices of individuals affected in different ways by issues and political choices into public discussion of what’s at stake. Political projects have included coverage of the 2008 election with a diverse group of citizens for the New York Times; features on red/blue couples, for the Wall Street Journal and TIME.com, and a Politico series on the politics of immigration as seen through the 2016 candidates' family histories.