History of the Center
The Center for the Study of Democracy is a joint initiative of St. Mary's College of Maryland and its partner institution, Historic St. Mary's City, which explores contemporary and historical issues associated with democracy and liberty. Since its inception in 2002, the Center has cultivated a robust program of political education and civic engagement.
Over the years the Center has helped to develop the area's democratic capacity by organizing forums for political debate, environmental awareness and other issues of concern to local citizens. Most recently, the Center's Director, Dr. Michael Cain, organized and moderated A Citizen Forum on Changing Our System of Local Government, which provided citizens and local lawmakers to learn more about a charter form of government. The Center also partnered a series of debates running up to the 2006 gubernatorial election. During those debates the Center was viewed as a must-visit destination for those vying for Maryland political office, including Republican Governor Robert Ehrlich, Democratic candidate for Governor, Martin O'Malley, and candidates for U.S. Congress, Attorney General, Comptroller, the Maryland State Senate and House of Delegates, St. Mary's County Commissioners, and local Sheriffs.
The Center also serves as a forum for students to debate and discuss issues in democracy throughout the school year. In addition, in the spring of 2007, students joined professors to appear before the State of Maryland's House Ways and Means Committee to testify on House Bill 366 "Election Administration and the Recruitment and Retention of Election Judges." Although the law did not pass, their efforts raised the issue in the minds of citizens and school administrators.
The Center, with its proximity to the Patuxent Navel Air Base, frequently plays host to speakers of interest to the U.S. defense community. The Center has hosted prominent national officials including the former Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell, the former Director of the Central Intelligence, James Woolsey and former NATO Commander, General Andrew J. Goodpaster. The Center also regularly sponsors academic and policy discussions on international affairs.