Students and Faculty of joint partnership for democracy assistance in Latin America

UT Austin and IDEA Partner on Democracy Assistance in Latin America

  • Jun 27, 2023

The University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Government has partnered with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) to support students working on democracy and election assistance in Central and South America in summer 2023.  

During the 2022-2023 academic year, UT Austin launched the Democratic Institutional Development in Latin America program, an innovative research fellowship promoting student research and advancing democratic development in the region.  

The program, led by Associate Professor of Government Zachary Elkins and lecturer Ashley Moran, was developed in cooperation between IDEA and the Comparative Constitutions Projects, a global database of constitutions cofounded by Elkins.  

“Democracy globally faces its gravest challenges in decades,” said Moran. “This partnership with IDEA provides an unparalleled opportunity for the next generation of democracy and development professionals to apply their classroom training by working directly in democracy assistance and constitutional research in the field.”  

With funding from Texas Global, the program placed nine graduate and undergraduate students in IDEA’s offices in Panama, Chile and its Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean to work on democracy assistance projects and field public consultations on constitutional issues. Their work in Chile and Panama comes at a particularly complex time, as Chile drafts a new constitution and Panama prepares for upcoming national elections.  

“I am so excited about this internship opportunity because it’s unlike any other one I’ve had before,” said Alexys Aquino, a senior studying government, international relations and global studies and Spanish, headed for the Panama office. “This summer, I’m hoping to get a firsthand look at the work that goes into an intergovernmental organization, to immerse myself in Panamanian culture, and to learn a little more about what my long-term academic and research interests are.” 

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