Junior Megha Parwani honored for democracy-building efforts

In a time of heightened political polarization, junior MEGHA PARWANI is being recognized for her work to strengthen civil dialogue, civic engagement and democracy-building, particularly among young people.

Megha Parwani
Megha Parwani

Parwani has been selected as a 2021-22 Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact, a national coalition of colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education. President Marc Tessier-Lavigne recommended her for the award, which honors student leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to finding solutions for complex social and environmental challenges.

Parwani is double majoring in philosophy and political science, with a particular interest in strengthening the foundations of civic and democratic practice.

She noted, “This work is important to me because I believe building a more representative, effective democracy is essential for making lasting progress on every other social goal – from realizing racial justice to addressing climate change. Robust democracy is the foundation for a more just society.”

For the past three years, Parwani has served as a writer, editor and editorial board member of the Stanford Daily. She has also organized campus events for students to engage in civil political dialogue through the Associated Students of Stanford University’s Academic Freedom and Political Engagement effort.

An important part of Parwani’s Stanford experience has been interning and conducting research with the Stanford Center for Deliberative Democracy (CDD).

“Megha is constantly thinking about how to solve problems related to polarization and engagement. She is one of the most motivated undergraduates I’ve worked with in this field,” said Alice Siu, CDD associate director.

A central question of the center’s work is whether deliberative democracy – an approach based on informed and moderated discussion rather than partisan debate – can depolarize society and strengthen democracy.

Parwani helped organize “America in One Room,” a landmark Deliberative Polling event held by Stanford professors Larry Diamond and James Fishkin with Siu. It brought together 500 nationally representative voters in Dallas, Texas, in October 2019. The event, and participants’ subsequent shifts toward the center of the political spectrum, was documented by the New York Times.

Read more on the Stanford Today website.