About CDMS

Formation of the Center

The idea for the Center originated in 2001 during conversations among faculty, administrators, and the distinguished visiting scholar, Joe Feagin, whose Center proposal became the springboard for its establishment. During the 2001-2002 academic year, a campus-wide committee of faculty and students collaborated on creating a mission statement and governance structure for the Center. Approved by the Illinois Board of Higher Education in July 2002, the Center is a component of a broader campus Diversity Initiative. Primarily structured as a policy/research and public education unit, the Center is designed to serve as catalyst for vigorous scholarly and public debate on the multiple racial contexts of democracy.

The Center on Democracy in a Multiracial Society is a unique research institute organized around a commitment to the practice of democracy and equality within a changing multiracial U.S. society.  A central aim of the Center is to promote multiple and interdisciplinary approaches for examining the organization of society relating to the racially and ethnically diverse populations in the U.S. at the beginning of the twenty-first century, as well as to gender, class, age, sexuality, disability, religion, and citizenship status. In addition to analysis of the national dynamics of racial divisions and of democratic possibilities, the Center supports related studies of a transnational and international comparative nature.

The Center’s research and scholarly agenda calls for examining both political institutions and the implications of living and working together in a multiracial democracy. Everyday life constitutes one site for analyzing how democracy is experienced and expressed in mass and popular culture, religion, the workplace, neighborhoods, and other locations. The historical and contemporary role of public education, especially as reflected in issues such as access, curriculum, and public policy, is another site for analyzing the workings of a multiracial democracy. Law and citizenship comprises yet another area of inquiry into the inter-relationships of society, nation-states, communities, and individuals that affect notions and experiences of individual rights and citizenship. Studies of the diverse ways in which advances in media and technology continue to impact questions of equality are a further means of developing a broader understanding of democracy.

Words from the Director





Center on Democracy in a Multiracial Society
1108 W Stoughton, Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: 217.244.0188 Fax: 217.333.8122 E-mail: cdms@illinois.edu