Center for Sustainable Democracy

Who We Are

Students seated with Josh Scacco at an event

The Center for Sustainable Democracy (CSD) is a nonpartisan, multi-disciplinary research center focusing on challenges posed to and opportunities for democracy and civil society in the 21st century. Sustainable democracy means governance, information, and societal processes that empower people to make informed decisions and engage in public life. CSD emphasizes research and engagement regarding how political and civic leaders, journalists, and everyday individuals sustain democratic life in Florida, the United States, and globally.

CSD work focuses on resilient leadership, information environments, and sustainable communities:

  • Resilient Leadership: Assesses political and civic leadership as it relates to sustaining democracy. The Center researches contemporary practices of public leadership, including digital and socially-mediated messaging. Some of the areas of focus include (a) Leadership and public communication practices; (b) Education, workshops, and events on civic foundations; (c) Practices for social/digital media management; and (d) Executive communication training/public speaking.

  • Information Environments: Assesses challenges and opportunities in information environments faced by journalists and newsrooms, social and digital media platforms, and people navigating online content. The Center works to understand deficiencies and opportunities in the information system. Some of the areas of focus include (a) Information quality in the digital age; (b) Democracy-focused journalism; (c) Press freedom; and (d) Regulatory policy toward social and digital media platforms.

  • Sustainable Communities: Assesses public opinions and attitudes via representative surveys about democracy-related challenges. The Center partners with organizations and communities dedicated to strengthening institutions of democracy, including pluralistic governance. Some of the areas of focus include (a) Public policy attitudes and opinions; (b) Tracking support for institutions of democracy and values associated with it; and (c) Counteracting the effects of political polarization.

Founded in 2023, the Center for Sustainable Democracy is housed in the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of South Florida. The Center is directed by Dr. Joshua Scacco, associate professor in the Department of Communication. For more information on the Center’s work, please contact Josh Scacco.