The Democracy Challenge

The Democracy Challenge (TDC) is our free orientation workshop, serving as an introduction to the Public Square Academy. In this workshop, you will learn about nine areas (or pillars) where our democracy is at risk. Your work is to identify your areas of interest and decide if you want to take action about any of these areas. This program is your chance to get to know how the Academy works and its membership.

When you have completed the workshop, you are invited to become a member, start or join a group, or develop a course or workshop for the platform.

Once you enroll, you will receive an invitation to set up an account, then you will have access to the curriculum and be able to join a weekly video call to learn about the community and share your learning and action goals.


This is a survey course for anyone who wants to take a more direct role in supporting and improving our democracy.

The program provides a basic understanding of nine areas where democracy can be improved. Participants develop their thoughts and ideas for becoming ‘part of the solution.’ The program also provides an orientation to the Public Square Academy and an invitation to become a member.


By the end of this course, you will:

Develop an understanding of the “current reality” of our democracy.

Explore nine areas of opportunity for improving our democracy: Democratic Values, Journalism & Trust, The Common Good, Healthy Economy, Economic Opportunity, Consumer Empowerment, Health & Environment, Learning & Growth, and  Character & Culture.

Learn about our operating framework and program design model.

Develop concrete ideas for participation in the Academy and for building a more perfect union.


Enrolling in The Democracy Challenge offers numerous benefits, including:

Many of us are frustrated and angry at being excluded, left behind, or disenfranchised. By participating in education and action-oriented groups, you will become more a part of the solution.

Clarity, focus, and direction for becoming more educated, empowered, and engaged in your personal, economic, and civic lives.

Participants develop specific awareness of challenges and opportunities to support the healthy functioning of a democracy.

You will formulate ideas for participating as a member of the Academy.


This course is divided into five learning modules: An introductory module, three modules exploring nine areas of democratic engagement, and the Next Steps for becoming an Academy member.


The introductory lessons express one version of the “Current Reality” of Democracy in our time. We present our Operating Framework and an invitation to become a more active citizen.


Character & Culture. Character is shaped by families, schools, and culture, including art, literature, religion, and philosophy. Although our unique character is deeply embedded in each of us, character is learned and thus grows and changes with experience over time, intention, and influence.

Learning & Growth. The primary elements of personal growth are education, personal development, and lifelong learning. Education is the foundation for the successful lives we provide our citizens through skill building, knowledge transfer, and perspective development.

Health & Environment. The well-being of all is in our collective interest. A healthy environment with an educated, safe, responsible, and wise population makes human and economic sense as a healthy citizenry is productive and effective; an unhealthy population increases our collective cost of care and remediation.


Economic Opportunity.For economic opportunity, industry practices or regulatory guidelines will provide benefits allowing employees to live economically secure lives even within chaotic and ever-shifting market conditions.

Healthy Economy. A healthy society and economy provide broad opportunities for all citizens: Livable wages, advancing careers that offer various choices for work-life balance, and the opportunity for all to become financially secure.

Consumer Empowerment. Free and open markets are the foundation of a vibrant economy. A competitive market exists where there is a healthy balance between companies and consumers.


Democratic Values. We support and promote Liberal Democracy as the form of government that allows all citizens to live their best lives. Democracy must continually be renewed by each generation and defended vigorously when under attack.

Journalism & Trust. The health of our democracy depends upon the oversight and reporting of journalists. As the “fourth estate,” Journalists represent the people and perform this oversight. As journalists struggle with an industry in viability and credibility, public trust in journalism continues to decline, thus creating a vicious cycle.

The Common Good. The common good is an ethical concept that holds that, for a society to be prosperous, we must occasionally put the interests of our community over our interests, the interests of our country over our political parties, and the interests of the Earth over economic or nationalist interests.


Don’t just take our word for it. See what our previous participants have to say about The Democracy Challenge:

I learned a lot in this course. I became conscious that the issues we see in the news each day are really opportunities for making Democracy better. I’m in. Sign me up.

Rosa M

“This course helped me to understand fundamental issues that explain where we are right now. I think this course can help me discover ways to be a part of the solution.”

Marcel W.

“The most important result has been the way I now take a more proactive role. Using group-based learning, nested in a larger community, seems like a smart approach to deal with our social and political problems. I know that I can take charge of my environment and the things that happen around me, losing that sense of “the inevitable.”

Ann Brooker

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