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Meridian Forums are a unique and innovative venue for shared learning and experimentation among Meridian 180 members. Thought leaders from partner universities or key experts initiate digital forums and invite member participation to explore critical risks and opportunities for crisis preparedness in key focus areas.   

Every contribution posted by members in the forum is translated into Chinese, English, Japanese, and Korean. Forum Summaries, which outline the central themes and ideas discussed among members in Meridian Forums, are posted publicly here after the close of each forum. 

A Meridian 180 Global Summit is held annually at a partner institution, welcoming members and guests. Through intensive dialogue, groups of experts from academia, public sector, and private sector identify critical challenges and intensely brainstorm opportunities for action. 

The Summit serves as a launching pad for long-term Working Groups of committed members. The Groups establish frameworks for intentional research and action designed to mitigate the impact of a coming crisis.

Active Forum: Democracy and Truth

Led by:
Annelise Riles
Executive Director of the Buffett Institute for Global Studies, Associate Provost for Global Affairs, Professor of Law, Northwestern University

Adam Reed
Reader, Department of Social Anthropology, University of St. Andrews

This forum focuses on the relationship between democracy and truth, from historical truth and scientific fact to government transparency and accountability. In countries undergoing democratic transition – including but not limited to Spain, Chile, Argentina, Cambodia, and Japan – the benefits and hazards of selective memory and structural amnesia are under debate. Elsewhere, some governments blatantly deny uncontestable objective facts like climate science, while others (notably, Trump’s America and Putin’s Russia) deride the media’s validity and critique the very concept of democracy.

This forum asks participants to reflect upon different notions of truth and the ways in which they influence, undermine, and strengthen democracy around the world. Other questions prompt participants to discuss how societies use “alternative facts” and renditions of history or truth-seeking mechanisms to shape democracy, and how we (as scholars, activists, governmental officials, citizens) should respond to the mainstream’s disenfranchisement with democracy.

The forum, which runs through the end of February, welcomes participants from a wide variety of fields and perspectives. Join the conversation. If you are not already a participant, write to Senior Program Coordinator Ariel Schwartz (, and she will add you to the platform.

Forum Summaries

LA city signpost

In the City Diplomacy online forum, moderators invited members to reflect on the increasing boldness and visibility of cities’ diplomatic engagements. Among the questions posed were whether city diplomacy is really a growing phenomenon, what versions of international relations it might produce, what the implications might be for rural and remote communities, and what the risks for cities themselves might be of the resulting global connection and disconnection.

Art of North Korean military

Meridian 180 held a forum for insights on the North Korean nuclear crisis from the unconventional viewpoint of the North Korean elite by posing this hypothetical: Imagine yourself as a member of Kim Jong-Un’s inner circle, born and raised to rare privilege and rank in North Korea. How would you advise Kim when the wrong word could cost you your life of comfort, if not life itself, but continuing on the present course be just as disastrous?

Forest in fog

Meridian 180 members discussed a series of stimulating questions focused on the intersections of authority, media, and the public, and the different roles and questions each stakeholder should be considering. The forum engaged a wide range of experts including legal scholars, journalists, economists, political scientists, and policymakers and resulted in a lively exploration of the role of technology, media, and power in a post-truth era.

Interconnected world

Prompted in part by recent scandals in the United States surrounding the hacking and release of email data, Meridian 180 members thought widely about the issues and implications of how to govern data, as well as how data governs individuals and systems. The forum generated a wide exchange of ideas from a diverse group of economists, sociologists, computer scientists, anthropologists, and legal experts from Australia, China, Korea, the United States, and Latin America.