Danielle Allen

Director, Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University

Danielle Allen, James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University, and Director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, is a political theorist who has published broadly in democratic theory, political sociology, and the history of political thought. Widely known for her work on justice and citizenship in both ancient Athens and modern America, Allen is the author of The World of Prometheus: The Politics of Punishing in Democratic Athens (2000), Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown vs. the Board of Education (2004), Why Plato Wrote (2010), Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality (2014), Education and Equality (2016), and Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A. (2017). She is the co-editor of the award-winning Education, Justice, and Democracy (2013, with Rob Reich) and From Voice to Influence: Understanding Citizenship in the Digital Age (2015, with Jennifer Light). She is a former Chair of the Mellon Foundation Board, past Chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

She has chaired numerous commission processes and is a lead author on influential policy roadmaps, including Pursuing Excellence on a Foundation of InclusionRoadmap to Pandemic ResiliencePandemic Resilience: Getting it DoneOur Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century; and Education for American Democracy: Excellence in History and Civics for all Learners K-12.  She was for many years a contributing columnist for the Washington Post, and writes for the Atlantic.

Allen is the founding director for the Democratic Knowledge Project Design Studio, which emerged from the Democratic Knowledge Project, a distributed research and action lab at Harvard University.  Allen's lab, the Democratic Knowledge Project, worked to identify, strengthen, and disseminate the bodies of knowledge, skills, and capacities that democratic citizens need in order to succeed at operating their democracy.  The Design Studio now supports the Democratic Knowledge Project K-12 civic education work, for which Allen is a faculty advisor.

Professor Allen is on leave for the 2021-22 academic year.