2022 Projects, Publications & Meetings of the Academy

American Institutions, Society, and the Public Good

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The inauguration of President Barack Obama, January 20th 2009. Unrecognizable crowds in the Washington Mall.

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences was founded by visionaries who foresaw that the nascent republic would benefit from the expertise of learned citizens to guide its development, health, and integrity through whatever challenges may arise.

Today, the clarity of that vision has never been more evident. The pandemic, the 2020 election and its aftermath, and the movement for justice and reform in the wake of repeated racial injustice have demonstrated the importance of shoring up our institutions and civil society on behalf of the public good. We find ourselves in a time of deepening divides across lines of politics, race, religion, income, and opportunity. The institutions we have long turned to for leadership and information are under fire, and doubt about the credibility of the media, government, commercial enterprise, and academia is cast from many directions. Strong and responsive institutions and a healthy civil society can carry us through crises and are vitally important in their aftermath.

From these challenges springs an ever-greater need for innovation and reinvestment in America’s founding values and its promise. As the Academy’s report Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century notes, we are experiencing an age of surging civic participation, “of communities working to build new connections across long-standing divides, and of citizens suddenly awakening to the potential of their democratic responsibilities.” It is in times like these that members of the Academy, through projects in the American Institutions, Society, and the Public Good program, combine their extraordinary and diverse expertise to strengthen the relationships between our national institutions, civil society, and the citizens they serve and represent.



Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship

Civic Saturday with Eric Liu.

The Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship is a multiyear project of the Academy. The Commission launched in 2018 to explore the factors that encourage and discourage people from becoming engaged in their communities. The Commission’s final report, Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century, seeks to improve democratic engagement in the United States with a set of recommendations that reach across political institutions, civic culture, and civil society to revitalize American democracy by increasing representation, empowering voters, making institutions more responsive, and revitalizing our civic culture.

The Academy has committed to make significant progress on all thirty-one recommendations by 2026, the nation’s 250th anniversary. In collaboration with champion organizations and leaders from across the nation, who are committed to the advancement of the recommendations, the Academy will host public events and targeted briefings; provide expert testimony and thought leadership; convene experts and practitioners for knowledge sharing and strategy development; create op-eds and other earned media; and in other ways stand up and support the ongoing implementation of Our Common Purpose.

Commission Chairs

Danielle Allen
Harvard University

Stephen Heintz
Rockefeller Brothers Fund

Eric Liu
Citizen University


Commission Members

Sayu Bhojwani
Women’s Democracy Lab

danah boyd
Data & Society

Caroline Brettell
Southern Methodist University

David Brooks
The New York Times

David Campbell
University of Notre Dame

Alan Dachs
Fremont Group

Dee Davis
Center for Rural Strategies

Jonathan Fanton
American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Lisa Garcia Bedolla
University of California, Berkeley

Sam Gill*
Doris Duke Charitable Foundation

R. Marie Griffith*
John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics, University of Washington in St. Louis

Hahrie Han
Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute, Johns Hopkins University

Antonia Hernández*
California Community Foundation

Wallace Jefferson*
Alexander Dubose & Jefferson, LLP

Joseph Kahne
University of California, Riverside

Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg*
Tufts University

Yuval Levin*
American Enterprise Institute

Carolyn Lukensmeyer
formerly, National Institute for Civil Discourse

Martha McCoy
Everyday Democracy

Lynn Nottage

Steven Olikara
Millennial Action Project

Norman Ornstein*
American Enterprise Institute

Robert Peck
FPR Partners

Pete Peterson*
School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University

Miles Rapoport*
Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Harvard University

Michael Schudson
Columbia University

Sterling Speirn
formerly, National Conference on Citizenship

Marcelo Suárez-Orozco
University of Massachusetts Boston

Ben Vinson
Case Western Reserve University

Diane Wood
U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

Judy Woodruff

Ethan Zuckerman
University of Massachusetts Amherst


Project Staff

Jonathan D. Cohen
Joan and Irwin Jacobs Program Officer for American Institutions, Society, and the Public Good

Darshan Goux
Program Director for American Institutions, Society, and the Public Good

Morgan Jacobs
External Relations Officer

Jessica Lieberman
Program Officer for American Institutions, Society, and the Public Good

Tania Munz
Chief Program Officer

Abhishek Raman
Program Officer for American Institutions, Society, and the Public Good

Peter Robinson
Morton L. Mandel Director of Strategic Implementation

Elizabeth Youngling
Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Humanities Policy Fellow



S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation

Rockefeller Brothers Fund

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Ford Foundation

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

The Suzanne Nora Johnson and David G. Johnson Foundation

The Clary Family Charitable Fund

Alan and Lauren Dachs

Sara Lee Schupf and the Lubin Family Foundation

Joan and Irwin Jacobs

Patti Saris

David M. Rubenstein

* Denotes member of the OCP Implementation Advisory Committee

Commission Publications

The Case for Enlarging the House of Representatives

The Case for Enlarging the House of Representatives, Lee Drutman, Jonathan D. Cohen, Yuval Levin, and Norman J. Ornstein (American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2021)


Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century

Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century (American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2020)


The Political and Civic Engagement of Immigrants

The Political and Civic Engagement of Immigrants, Caroline Brettell (American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2020)


The Data Driving Democracy

The Data Driving Democracy, Christina Couch (American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2020)


The Internet and Engaged Citizenship

The Internet and Engaged Citizenship, David Karpf (American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2019)


Commission Meetings

Salons at Stowe

July 27, 2021; August 26, 2021; and January 27, 2022
Recommendation 6.2 in Our Common Purpose calls for a Telling Our Nation’s Story initiative: engaging communities across the country in direct, open-ended, and inclusive conversations about the complex American story. Across three events, the Harriet Beacher Stowe Center in Hartford, Connecticut, collaborated with the Academy to investigate divisive narratives of American history and pursue values that can unite rather than divide the nation. Each event began with an introduction to Our Common Purpose and the Telling Our Nation’s Story recommendation, followed by a panel conversation about a divisive historical topic. The first event focused on Uncle Tom’s Cabin and how the epithet “Uncle Tom” has shaped American racial policies; the second event centered on criminal justice reform and how the debates over police violence in the twenty-first century date back to the antebellum period; and the third event highlighted the barriers to political activism overcome by women and girls in Connecticut and across the nation, as well as the particular challenges women of color face in advocating for policies that support their vision of a more inclusive nation.


July 27, 2021

Cheryl Thompson
Ryerson University

Maisa L. Tisdale
Mary and Eliza Freeman Center


August 26, 2021

Martha McCoy
Everyday Democracy

Daryl McGraw
Formerly Inc.; CT State Police Transparency and Accountability Task Force

Jonathan Daniel Wells
University of Michigan


January 27, 2022

Anna Malaika Tubbs

Janée Woods Weber
Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund


Thought and Action: The Political Responsibility of Universities

October 14–15, 2021
The Academy cohosted a virtual symposium, “Thought and Action: The Political Responsibility of Universities,” with the Thomas Mann House, the German Research Foundation, and the German Rectors’ Conference. Members of the Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship had the chance to share Our Common Purpose with scholars and university administrators from the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Austria. Participants discussed the challenges facing democracy in their countries, in particular the role of higher education institutions in building healthier political cultures and stronger democratic institutions. The symposium offered an important reminder of the challenges facing democracies overseas and offered a unique opportunity to discuss the Our Common Purpose recommendations with a diverse cohort of international thought leaders.


Peter-André Alt
German Rectors’ Conference

Julika Griem
German Research Foundation

Steven Lavine
Thomas Mann House

David W. Oxtoby
American Academy of Arts and Sciences


A Youth Agenda for American Democracy

November 12, 2021
The Academy hosted a summit of fifty young leaders, ages eighteen to twenty-nine, from across the United States to discuss the challenges they have experienced with American democracy through their own work. While summit participants expressed concern that unresponsive institutions and elected officials have led to a widespread sense of disengagement and disempowerment among their peers, they also articulated their own affirmative agenda for strengthening our constitutional democracy.


R. Marie Griffith
Washington University in St. Louis

Justin Levitt
The White House

Alice Siu
Center for Deliberative Democracy, Stanford University


How Higher Education Can Save American Democracy

December 1, 2021
The Academy invited leaders from its network of Affiliate institutions to an off-the-record conversation about the relationship between higher education and American democracy. At this virtual convening, the participants discussed the challenges that higher education institutions face and the opportunities they have to help reinvent American democracy for the twenty-first century.


Melody Barnes
University of Virginia

Ronald Daniels
Johns Hopkins University

Lisa García Bedolla
University of California, Berkeley


Libraries as Bridges

December 3, 2021 and February 25, 2022
The Academy hosted over fifty library professionals from across the country at a virtual conversation of the Libraries as Bridges network to discuss the challenges and opportunities for libraries in the democracy space. This multi-part series of events engaged library professionals and other civic catalysts to advance the role of libraries in creating civic infrastructure and sustaining a healthy constitutional democracy.


Daphna Blatt
New York Public Library

Shamichael Hallman
Memphis Public Library

Eric Liu
Citizen University


Meeting of the Commission

March 30, 2022
Members of the Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship convened virtually to reflect on the events that have occurred since the release of the Our Common Purpose report, to consider how the recommendations and strategies have fared, and to discuss how to mark the two-year anniversary of the report.

What Does it Mean to be an American? Reexamining the Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship

April 20, 2022
Amid extreme partisan polarization, trust in government institutions hovers near record lows and a large majority of Americans believe their values are under attack. In this context, what values hold the nation together, and what does it mean to be a “good citizen”? The Academy brought together a distinguished panel of experts to examine how the rights and responsibilities of American citizenship are connected and how they might be used to create a greater sense of common purpose.


Danielle Allen, moderator
Harvard University

E.J. Dionne Jr.
Brookings Institution

María Teresa Kumar
Voto Latino

John Shattuck
Fletcher School, Tufts University


Talking about Democracy with Millennials and Gen Z

May 5, 2022
From climate change, to immigration, to education, to democracy reform, young Americans lead efforts on some of the most pressing issues facing the nation and the world. How do their life experiences and cultural context shape the language they use in their work? This event included a presentation of data from the Civic Language Perceptions Project by the Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement, a discussion on how perceptions differ across age groups, and a conversation with young civic leaders on how civic culture and language inform their work.


Diana Aviv
Partnership for American Democracy

Nimisha Ganesh

Caroline Klibanoff
Made by Us

David McCullough
American Exchange Project

Amy McIsaac
Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement

Manu Meel


Strengthening American Democracy through Civic Investment

May 6–8, 2022
The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands partnered with the Academy to host a multiday retreat to bring attention to the chronic underinvestment in the civic health of our nation’s communities and to mobilize support for the development of local civic infrastructure. The convening was rooted in the Commission’s recommendation to create a Trust for Civic Infrastructure. Civil society practitioners, scholars, and philanthropic leaders joined with members of the Commission to discuss the need to invest substantial and sustainable resources in the nation’s civic infrastructure – the local spaces, programs, and people that encourage residents to interact, find common ground, and solve problems together.


Stephen Heintz
Rockefeller Brothers Fund

David Lane
Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands

David W. Oxtoby
American Academy of Arts and Sciences


Bridging Divides in America

May 17, 2022
America’s divisions pose a threat to our national security and make it more difficult to address critical challenges facing the nation. The Academy hosted a discussion on the importance of addressing these divisions and finding new forms of engagement that acknowledge our divides while finding productive ways to cross them. Republican and Democratic members of Congress, leaders in national security, and experts in bridging divides discussed what is at stake and shared promising solutions that could help bring Americans together to solve problems and strengthen our nation.


Andy Barr
U.S. House of Representatives, Kentucky’s Sixth Congressional District

Kay Bailey Hutchison
formerly, U.S. Department of State

Derek Kilmer
U.S. House of Representatives, Washington’s Sixth Congressional District

Eric Liu
Citizen University

Farah Pandith
Council on Foreign Relations; formerly, U.S. Department of State

Laurie Patton
Middlebury College



Making Justice Accessible

Washington DC, USA exterior of Supreme Court building marble architecture and closeup on Capital capitol hill columns pillars by entrance and sign.

The two projects of the Making Justice Accessible initiative addressed the challenges of providing legal services to low-income Americans. The first project, Designing Legal Services for the 21st Century, gathered information about the national need for improved legal access and advanced a set of clear national recommendations for closing the “civil justice gap” between supply of and demand for legal services. In September 2020, the project released its final report, Civil Justice for All, calling for the legal profession, the courts, law schools, tech professionals, and partners from many other fields to join together to provide legal assistance to many more people in need. The report recommends targeted investments, simplified procedures, greater coordination and new partnerships among a range of fields and sectors, and new advocates who are trained and encouraged to provide more accessible legal assistance.

The second project, Data Collection and Legal Services for Low-Income Americans, issued its report Measuring Civil Justice for All in February 2021. The report identifies sources of existing data on legal services and unrepresented civil litigation nationwide. This project created a blueprint for future data collection efforts, including establishing a research agenda for scholars, practitioners, and policy-makers. Participants include representatives of the courts, legal aid providers, and foundations, as well as legal scholars and social scientists.

The related Winter 2019 issue of Dædalus on “Access to Justice” is a multidisciplinary study of the civil justice gap, examining new models for the delivery of legal aid.

This project launched a two-year implementation phase in February 2022.

Project Chairs

John Levi
Legal Services Corporation; Sidley Austin LLP

Martha Minow
Harvard Law School

Kenneth C. Frazier
formerly, Merck & Co.


Data Collection & Legal Services for Low-Income Americans

Project Chairs

Mark Hansen
University of Chicago

Rebecca Sandefur
Arizona State University


Advisory Committee

Kimberly S. Budd
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Colleen Cotter
Legal Aid Society of Cleveland

Ronald Flagg
Legal Services Corporation

Ivan Fong

Bethany Hamilton
National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership

Nathan L. Hecht
Texas Supreme Court

Wallace B. Jefferson
Alexander Dubose & Jefferson, LLP

Joe Kennedy, III
formerly, U.S. House of Representatives

Lance Liebman
Columbia Law School

Jonathan Lippman
Latham & Watkins, LLP

Lora J. Livingston
Texas 261st District Court (Travis County)

Judy Perry Martinez
Simon, Peragine, Smith & Redfearn

Bridget Mary McCormack
Michigan Supreme Court

Margaret Morrow
formerly, United States District Court for the Central District of California

Rohan Pavuluri

Andrew M. Perlman
Suffolk University School of Law

Daniel B. Rodriguez
Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Rebecca Sandefur
Arizona State University

William Treanor
Georgetown Law

Jo-Ann Wallace
National Legal Aid & Defender Association

Diane Wood
U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit



Eduardo Gonzalez
Program Officer for American Institutions, Society, and the Public Good

Darshan Goux
Program Director for American Institutions, Society, and the Public Good

Tania Munz
Chief Program Officer



David M. Rubenstein

Project Publications

Measuring Civil Justice for All

Measuring Civil Justice for All (American Academy of Arts and Sciences, February 2021)


Civil Justice for All

Civil Justice for All (American Academy of Arts and Sciences, September 2020)


“Access to Justice,” Dædalus

“Access to Justice,” Dædalus, edited by Lincoln Caplan, Lance Liebman, and Rebecca Sandefur (Winter 2019)




The Commission on Reimagining Our Economy

People looking at a scrambled line on a graph

Economic uncertainty is a disruptive force in American life. In the United States today, too many families are unable to achieve the life they want despite their best efforts, too many communities have not benefited from economic growth, and too many Americans believe the economy does not work for people like them. These conditions not only harm lives and livelihoods, but they also sow distrust in our political, economic, and community institutions. The widespread belief that the economy does not give everyone a fair chance exacerbates tensions among Americans, threatening the nation’s social fabric and its democracy.

The Academy launched the Commission on Reimagining Our Economy (CORE) in October 2021 with the goal of rethinking the principles, metrics, narratives, and policies that shape the nation’s political economy. While policy-makers and journalists often track how the economy is doing, the Commission seeks to direct a focus onto how Americans are doing, elevating the human stakes of our economic and political systems. The Commission builds on the work of Our Common Purpose, which acknowledges that economic conditions shape the practice of democracy but does not offer recommendations specifically targeted at economic issues.

The interdisciplinary Commission comprises scholars, journalists, artists, and leaders from the faith, labor, business, education, and philanthropic communities. Through listening sessions, data collection, and a commitment to cross-partisan work, the Commission will develop bold, achievable recommendations to build an economy that works for all Americans. The Commission represents a vital endeavor to reimagine the nation’s political economy, to ease distrust, and to help the American people face the challenges of the twenty-first century.

Commission Chairs

Katherine J. Cramer
University of Wisconsin–Madison

Ann M. Fudge
formerly, Young & Rubicam Brands

Nicholas B. Lemann
Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism



Daron Acemoglu
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Elizabeth Anderson
University of Michigan

Cornell William Brooks
Harvard Kennedy School

Whitney Kimball Coe
Center for Rural Strategies

Jane Delgado
National Alliance for Hispanic Health

James Fallows
Our Towns Civic Foundation; The Atlantic

Helene Gayle
Spelman College

Jacob Hacker
Yale University

Tom Hanks
Actor and Filmmaker

Mary Kay Henry
Service Employees International Union

Kelly Lytle Hernández
University of California, Los Angeles

Megan Minoka Hill
Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development

Reid Hoffman
Greylock Partners

Serene Jones
Union Theological Seminary

Julius Krein
American Affairs

Goodwin Liu
California Supreme Court

Maya MacGuineas
Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

James Manyika
Alphabet, Inc.

Katherine Newman
University of Massachusetts

Viet Thanh Nguyen
University of Southern California

Sarah Ruger
Stand Together

Ruth Simmons
Prairie View A&M University

Matthew Slaughter
Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College

Anna Deavere Smith
Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue, New York University

Joseph Stiglitz
Columbia University

Michael Strain
American Enterprise Institute

Mark Trahant
Indian Country Today



Jonathan Cohen
Joan and Irwin Jacobs Program Officer for American Institutions, Society, and the Public Good

Darshan Goux
Program Director for American Institutions, Society, and the Public Good

Victor Lopez
Program Associate for American Institutions, Society, and the Public Good

Tania Munz
Chief Program Officer

Elizabeth Youngling
Carl & Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Fellow



The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

The C&P Buttenwieser Foundation

Omidyar Network

Patti Saris

David M. Rubenstein

Commission Meetings

Meeting of the Commission

October 3–5, 2021
At the first meeting of the Commission, held virtually, members offered definitions of political economy and explained what they saw as the biggest issues facing the American political economy in the twenty-first century. The Commission reflected on its unique opportunity for impact as a diverse, interdisciplinary group, and expressed an eagerness to produce bold, achievable recommendations.


Meeting of the Commission

April 10–12, 2022
The second meeting of the Commission was held in person at the offices of the Chicago Community Trust in Chicago, Illinois, with some members participating virtually. Following its first meeting, the Commission formed three working groups: one to rethink the metrics used to measure the economy, one to analyze the narratives that explain how the economy works, and one to organize listening sessions. At the second meeting, members heard updates from the three working groups and discussed next steps to ensure the Commission has all the information it needs to begin discussing recommendations. The Commission also continued its discussion of impact, including the possibility of releasing mixed-media products over the course of the Commission’s work, in addition to a final report.