HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Professor of Public Policy, HKS; James Bryant Conant University Professor, FAS


A survey of the nation’s civic health reveals troubling trends, with historic lows in trust among individuals and key institutions such as government, media, and the courts. Political polarization has significantly increased among Americans in the last 40 years, surpassing eight other democratic nations and challenging the idea that it is merely a global phenomenon. Higher education should focus on fostering students’ understanding of democratic norms, values, and institutions, equipping them with the necessary skills and attitudes for active civic participation. Inspiring students to recognize the significance of being a responsible citizen and sharing stories of historical figures who brought about transformational change through grassroots action can encourage students to believe in their ability to make a meaningful impact on society. Colleges and universities can play a crucial role in supporting democracy by advancing five key goals: civic learning, national service and volunteering, bridging divides, trusted elections and representative and responsible governance, and access to trusted news and information.


Bridgeland, John M., Cecilia Muñoz, and Danielle Allen. "Can Higher Education Help Renew American Democracy?" Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning 56.2 (March/April 2024): 11 - 20.