The Democratic Statecraft Lab is a project supported by UVA’s Democracy Initiative

Our research on democracy and authoritarianism addresses the major societal challenges and opportunities presented by the rise of authoritarian populism in the world today. This lab draws on expertise from the College of Arts and Science departments of Politics, Psychology, and History as well as UVA’s Batten School and the School of Law in the areas of research, teaching and public engagement.


Tobias Grossmann is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia. His research focuses on the development of the social, cognitive and brain processes that underpin adaptive social communication and behavior. He earned his Ph.D. in Psychology from the Max-Planck-Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences. Tobias has published more than 70 journal articles and his research has been continuously funded since 2008 -by the Wellcome Trust (UK), Max Planck Society (Germany) and the National Science Foundation (USA).

In the News

Red and Blue America Agree That Now Is the Time to Violate the Constitution

People of both parties seem rather okay with undermining core civil liberties in order to fight the pandemic.

The Atlantic

Misunderstanding the Bomb

How we've learned the wrong lessons about nuclear deterrence and arms control. Brendan Green, Todd Sechser

The World Is Experiencing a New Form of Autocracy

Today’s authoritarians use legal measures to subvert constitutional constraints on their power. By Lab Faculty Anne Meng and Mila Versteeg, with Tim Horley. 

The Atlantic

The U.S. and Iran: 'It's a very important moment'

Lab Director Todd Sechser moderates as former ambassadors Eric Edelman and Steve Mull discuss the latest chapter in a long and fraught relationship

Can the U.S. protect its nuclear weapons in Turkey?

U.S. forces reportedly came under artillery fire from Turkish troops heading into northern Syria last week — another sign of the sudden plunge in U.S. relations with Turkey.

Washington Post

Analysis of the U.S.-North Korean summit

Todd Sechser, an associate professor in the University of Virginia’s Department of Politics and the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy … he’s also a senior fellow at the Miller Center, specializing in international security and co-author of the 2017 book “Nuclear Weapons and Coercive Diplomacy. He joins Les Sinclair to analyze the summit.

Newsradio WINA
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“The impact of our work will reverberate in the future citizen-leaders we educate, in the innovative research that advances our understanding of the democratic project, and in the public engagement that influences its future prospects through policy.”

-Ian Baucom, Dean of Arts & Sciences