Democracy is much more than a way of making governments responsive to the wishes of the people. Well-designed and innovative democratic institutions can and do reduce violence and deprivation, and increase freedom, diversity, tolerance, education, health, social innovation, cultural creativity, and economic development.

The Merilees Chair was established through a gift by Gail and Stephen A Jarislowsky and located within the Department of Political Science at the University of British Columbia.  The Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions seeks to advance research, teaching and the broad communication of ideas and knowledge about institutional innovation in democratic governance.