The Institute for Democratic Renewal was founded within the Division of Politics and Economics in 1998 to provide hands-on engagement with and scholarly reflection upon the core issues facing the institutions and processes of democracy in the United States and abroad.
The Institute’s initial project, Renewing Democracy Through Interracial/Multicultural Community Building, ran from 1998 through 2001 and led to the production and publication of the widely used Community Builder’s Tool Kit: A Primer for Revitalizing Democracy from the Ground Up (more than 70,000 copies in six languages are in use nationwide). Based upon a year’s fieldwork with 14 exemplary projects throughout the nation, the Tool Kit identifies 15 elements needed for creating healthy productive interracial/multicultural communities. The project was also catalyst for the establishment of TNN (The National Network of year-round anti-racism community building training institutes in Albuquerque, New Mexico; (2001-2004); Seattle, Washington (2001-2004); Broward County, Florida; and Santa Barbara, California, and the Institute continues to supply counsel and technical assistance to them.
At the end of 2001 the Institute for Democratic Renewal joined forces with Oakland, California-based national Project Change, which has become a joint venture partner with the Institute. Their work proceeds on the assumption that institutional and structural racism remains the primary obstacle to a fully democratic society.
As with all institutes in DPE, students associated with the Institute for Democratic Renewal benefit from direct involvement in significant research projects. Faculty from the Claremont Colleges also serve as fellows of the institute, sharing the results of their own research into the issues and problems of democracy in the United States and abroad.