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Henry Farrell
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Henry Farrell

Political Science

Johns Hopkins University

Fellowship year

2023 - Johns Hopkins University - Study 50

Henry Farrell will spend his time at CASBS working on a new project, “The Science of the Open Society. The idea is straightforward, if wildly and hopelessly ambitious. Over the last several years, we have learned a lot about potential threats to open democratic societies, from vastly increased polarization, weaponized misinformation, widespread distrust and other factors. This has led to widespread political pessimism. However, we lack any understanding of the circumstances under which open societies are more or less resilient to these threats. When do open societies dissolve into faction and self-destructive feedback loops, and when are they more resilient? Can democratic disagreement serve as an engine of discovery? New data, new understandings of robustness, and new ideas may help us to come up with a better understanding of the circumstances under which open societies succeed and fail. This project will grow up to be a book. It will also build on and feed into collaborative work with Marion Fourcade, Hugo Mercier, Bruce Schneier, Melissa Schwartzberg, Cosma Shalizi and others.

His first book, The Political Economy of Trust: Interests, Institutions and Inter-Firm Cooperation was published by Cambridge University Press (2009). His second, with Abraham Newman, Of Privacy and Power: The Transatlantic Struggle over Freedom and Security, came out with Princeton (2019), while a third popular book with Professor Newman, Underground Empire is due to appear in 2023, published by Henry Holt in the US, and Penguin in the UK, with translations into Japanese and Finnish at a later date.

Farrell is currently the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute Professor of International Affairs at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).