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Democracy In All Policies

In small communities, civic and democratic practices are already evident in everyday habits, customs, therefore behavior-change interventions in such places must include them.

-Mihai Lupu

Mihai Lupu is an ASAP board  member and the founder of EduCab.  His academic and practical focus is on harnessing the potential of various organizations, such as public libraries and community centers, within small to medium-sized communities to initiate, curate, and foster critical thinking-based knowledge, democratic practices, and exposure to diversity-focused contexts that contribute to enhancing community-oriented and civic engagement practices worldwide. 

Through his work, Mihai demonstrates that in small communities, civic and democratic practices are already evident in everyday habits, customs and therefore behavior-change interventions in such places must include them.

He calls these practices small-scale democracies, and he emphasizes the importance of acknowledging and also acting on the democracy distance, which refers to the gap between established democratic narratives and practices and citizens’ understanding of their local customs and practices as essentially democratic instances with civic value.

To facilitate this understanding, Mihai breaks down the concept of democracy into smaller units of indices and indicators that can make more sense for citizens in villages and small towns.

He demonstrates that such indices and indicators are easier to be regarded as having democratic value to people, if they are seen with their relevance into day-to-day actions and experiences, while providing a wider range of space for specific interactions at the local level, tackled by anchor institutions like public libraries. Additionally, Mihai expands the concept of community beyond the classic territorial approach and diasporas to include all those who contribute to and are connected to these communities.

Throughout his work on this topic, Mihai draws on academic and non-academic literature to open discussions with new questions and ways of tackling his ideas. He also uses various examples of interventions and results achieved through the EduCaB program and methodology, which he founded and continues to implement in over 400 communities worldwide, while relating them to existing practices and approaches.

…a library can promote democratic practices and the overall experience of democracy while capitalizing on existing resources. 

Mihaita Lupu

Libraries are seen as miniature Agoras, contributing to the larger scale Agora by improving citizens’ well-being and quality of life through the way they relate to themselves and to each other. The questions and examples presented in his research aim to start a larger conversation among those who care about reviving communities and democratic practices in small communities, asking how much we do not use from what democracies can offer right now and how much a library can do to promote democratic practices and the overall experience of democracy while capitalizing on existing resources. 

Since this exercise it’s just at the beginning, the larger scope being to capture the potential of all core local institutions and stakeholders to translate indicators of democracy into specific actions easily recognizable by citizens, he names his approach ‘Democracy within all policies’, this being an EduCaB concept and program, developed in partnership with Academics Stand Against Poverty (ASAP), Yale Global Justice Program, Kettering Foundation, Periphery Inc. and the network of public libraries and community centers supported through EduCaB.

Mihai Lupu

Loading new year 2022 to 2023 with hand putting wood cube in pro

A Word from the ASAP President…

In 2022, Academics Stand Against Poverty inaugurated the Ambedkar Grants for Advancing Poverty Eradication (AGAPE), providing competitive funding and mentoring for innovative pilot projects in severe poverty eradication with strong prospects of cost-effective scale-up. The first four grants have been made, and a new round of AGAPE grant funding for 2023 was announced. 

In partnership with Global Financial Integrity, ASAP also selected and honored the winners of the Ninth Annual Amartya Sen Essay Prize Competition on illicit financial outflows from poor countries – while announcing the Tenth Competition and publishing the winning essays of the Eighth in Journal ASAP.

ASAP continues to work closely with Yale’s Global Justice Program on various fronts. One key idea is to incentivize the development and deployment of innovations through publicly funded impact rewards rather than patent-based monopoly rents. This option is needed especially in the domains of green and health technologies. Impact rewards would take account of the third-party effects of innovations, make beneficial innovations much more affordable, and draw R&D efforts to the specific needs of the poor. In partnership with JENA and AHETI in Africa, and RIS in India, we have been pushing this idea at the T7 and T20 as well as at COP27.

Another joint effort is focused on the 42% of humanity who cannot afford a healthy diet – a horrendous silent catastrophe that is widely ignored, with a large percentage of global food production wasted or converted to biofuels.

2022 saw the retirement of Helen Lang as ASAP’s Global Coordinator and Helen Yanacopulos as Secretary of the ASAP Board with our gratitude for their great contributions over many years. We welcome Zeke Ngcobo as our new Global Coordinator and plan to add one or two Board Members soon.

Academics Stand Against Poverty is still more wish than reality. But if even just one in a thousand scholars and educators were actively to join us, we would stand a real chance to achieve at least that small shift in the global distribution needed to end the more severe forms of poverty.

Thank You.


ASAP Journal

The Academics Stand Against Poverty (Journal ASAP) is an international multidisciplinary journal that was launched in 2020. Its mission is to publish high-quality work that can make genuine contributions to understanding and eradicating poverty and its effects in the real world. 

For the latest news, reviews and publications check out the website – here.


Climate Change

Global Climate Change Week (GCCW) – encouraging academic communities in all disciplines and countries to engage with their students and communities on climate change

The world’s poor have done the least to cause climate change, benefited the least from the causes of it, yet are the most vulnerable to its effects. Consequently it is vital for academics concerned about poverty to push for stronger action on climate change. Global Climate Change Week (October 9-15 in 2017) provides a focal point, resources, and support to help them to do so. This project is led by ASAP board member Keith Horton. Learn more and take part here.

Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and Climate Change – a legal guide detailing the links between climate change and human rights

In 2014, ASAP contributed to the development of a legal reference guide that examined the connections between climate change and human rights. The guide, which can be downloaded here, was designed to be of use to policy-makers and advocates around the world. This project was led by Sebastien Jodoin and produced in conjunction with the Center for International Sustainable Development Law and the Governance, Environment & Markets Initiative at Yale University.

Oslo Principles on Climate Change – detailing the existing legal obligations of states to curb climate change

A group of legal experts from around the world has produced the Oslo Principles. The principles detail how international laws such as human rights law and tort law may already require states to reduce their emissions, irrespective of other specific treaties. Click here to download the Oslo Principles and here to download an accompanying commentary. The project is led by ASAP President, Thomas Pogge and involved a team of legal experts from around the world. A future extension of the project will examine the existing obligations of enterprises to prevent climate change. A short video on the Oslo Principles is available here.


Institutional Reform

Institutional Reform Goals (IRG) – reforming global institutions that maintain the status quo

IRG is an ambitious research and advocacy project that aims to help systemically reform the interrelated global institutions and regulations that are perpetuating global poverty. With an initial focus on the Sustainable Development Goals, which will replace the Millennium Development Goals, ten other areas are also targets: (1) illicit financial flows, (2) international resource and borrowing privileges, (3) intellectual property law, (4) democratization and accountability, (5) international labor standards, (6) international trade, (7) environmental sustainability and climate change, (8) global migration, (9) the arms trade, and (10) debt. The project launched in 2012 and is led by ASAP President Thomas Pogge and Mitu Sengupta. Read more here.

Global Poverty Consensus Report (GPCR) – a joint project of ASAP and CROP aiming to highlight existing academic consensus on the causes and remedies for global poverty.

Academics are often portrayed as being in disagreement with each other. However, digging deeper, this is often only disagreement on specific points rather than more general principles. In the run up to the end of the Millennium Development Goals, this project and subsequent report was designed to highlight the broad overlap of academic opinion regarding the best ways forward in terms of global poverty alleviation. Based on thirty-nine interviews done by Gilad Tanay in 2012, the analysis was written by Alberto Cimadamore and Lynda Lange. Read more about it and download it from here.


Linking Academics and Researchers

Global Colleagues – forming global partnerships between poverty researchers

The Global Colleagues project matches early career researchers in the Global South with more senior researchers at well-resourced universities in the Global North or South. Over a year, they form a partnership and develop activities that are tailored to the research goals of the pairing.

The programme has been been dormant for the last two years, and ASAP aims to reactivate the programme in 2019/2020. For expressions of interest please contact:

Impact Interviews – sharing insights from global poverty experts

ASAPs Impact Interviews helps shares best practice and lessons learned for academics whose work has made an impact on poverty. This ongoing project consists of a series of interviews with academics who have helped achieve positive change through efforts such as policy consultations, civil society campaigns, and on-the-ground interventions. To read more and the interviews themselves, click here.


Global Health

Health Impact Fund (HIF) – incentivizing the development of new medicines for the global poor

HIF proposes a new way to pay for the development and delivery of pharmaceutical innovation. Under HIF, pharmaceutical firms would have the option of registering their new medicines with HIF and agreeing to provide them at cost anywhere they are needed. Instead of profiting through drug sales, they would be rewarded based on the global health impact of their drug. The project is led by ASAP President, Thomas Pogge and economist Aidan Hollis. For more information, see here.

The Global Health Impact (GHI) Project – evaluating and comparing medicines’ Global Health Impact

The GHI Index is a rating system that evaluates the health impact of medicines for diseases around the world. Focusing particularly on TB, HIV/AIDS and malaria, GHI’s goal is to assess the need, effectiveness and accessibility of relevant medicines around the world. The project is led by Nicole Hassoun. For more information, see here.