PrezFest 2019 / About Prezfest

Democracy in Dialogue

This May 21–23, join us at the University of Virginia for a critical and compelling look at America's most important institution


At the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, we know that understanding the governing challenges of the past can help unlock policy solutions for the future. In fact, each challenge is an opportunity for further exploration and learning.

Presidential Ideas Festival logo

On May 21–23, 2019, the Miller Center and UVA's new Democracy Initiative will bring these lessons to life by convening political insiders, top scholars, and students—our future leaders and influencers—for the Presidential Ideas Festival: Democracy in Dialogue. The three-day event on UVA's historic Central Grounds will feature working sessions about specific aspects of the presidency.

These sessions will serve as presidential laboratories through which participants with different points of view will investigate the issues and emerge with solutions. It is a unique process that encourages a real-world approach to problem-solving.

As a university whose cornerstone was laid by three presidents, the University of Virginia is uniquely positioned to facilitate these presidential laboratories—to create a space where understanding past challenges will drive the creation of solutions for the future.

"Why Now?" headline

As part of the University of Virginia’s Bicentennial—celebrating its founding 200 years ago by President Thomas Jefferson--PrezFest 2019 will engage promising undergraduate and graduate students, supporting Jefferson’s mission for the University to forge the “leaders of tomorrow through . . . the candid exchange of ideas.”

We will bring future leaders into conversation with former White House officials and the nation’s leading scholars, creating a unique environment in which discourse is turned into action.

WHY HERE headline

For more than four decades, the Miller Center has worked to apply the lessons of history to the nation’s most pressing governance challenges, dedicating itself to the comprehensive study of the U.S. presidency.

Through rigorous scholarship, we shine a light on the ways our democracy has worked—and on the times it has struggled. Through civil discourse, we carry forward a unique nonpartisan tradition, generating insights and proposals to help unite our divided nation.

Why join us? headline

The Presidential Ideas Festival will address the toughest challenges facing our democracy by:

  • Collecting and curating the viewpoints of top political leaders, scholars, and students
  • Delivering insights that help steer our country in a secure and prosperous direction
  • Cultivating future leaders of America
  • Establishing long-term connections with students, offering mentorship and guidance
  • Preparing students from all disciplines for public service

Join us to participate in discussions with some of the nation’s top political thinkers:

  • Former presidents and White House officials, first ladies, and ambassadors
  • Scholars and journalists
  • Business leaders and philanthropists
  • Current and former policy makers
  • Undergraduate and graduate students
  • Curious and engaged citizens from around the country, both in person and online

The Presidential Ideas Festival is part of the Miller Center’s ambitious “Presidency at a Crossroads” research project.