Join the John W. Kluge Center for a conversation with the new Kluge Prize recipient Danielle Allen, covering some of the difficult questions in public life today.
The Kluge Prize for Achievement in the Study of Humanity is given biennially to a person whose career reflects the notion that ideas matter, that thought must inform public policymaking for the nation to thrive and humankind to advance. No one better exemplifies these principles than Dr. Allen.
Allen will discuss how the United States is dealing with the pandemic, what could be done better, what causes protest movements to achieve their goals, and how the Declaration of Independence plays into current calls for equality.
Danielle Allen is Director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics as well as the James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University. She is an internationally-regarded political theorist with an extensive record of scholarship on justice, citizenship, and democracy.
Allen is the author of Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality, an analysis that reinvigorates public understanding of the founding document of the United States.
Her 2017 memoir, Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A., examines the way that racism in the justice system and mass incarceration impacted her own family. In it, she made a call for equality before the law and civic participation that animates all of her work.
Allen was a 2001 MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient for her ability to combine “the classicist’s careful attention to texts and language with the political theorist’s sophisticated and informed engagement.”
As a frequent lecturer, contributing columnist for The Washington Post, and regular guest on public radio, Allen discusses issues of citizenship and policy. In her role as director of the Safra Center, Allen has spearheaded an initiative helping to guide the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
She is also co-chair of a bipartisan commission, convened by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which on June 11 recommended 31 steps to strengthen American institutions and civic culture to help a nation in crisis emerge with a more resilient democracy.
Allen will collaborate with the Library on an initiative she has designed titled “Our Common Purpose—A Campaign for Civic Strength at the Library of Congress.” It will include initiatives to engage schools, universities, political leaders, and the American public in efforts to promote civic engagement.
Allen has received extensive praise from fellow scholars.
Toyin Falola, Professor of African Studies at the University of Texas and a member of the Kluge Center Scholars Council, said:
An original thinker, Danielle Allen is a respected political philosopher whose works on democracy, citizenship, and justice have connected us to foundational ideals. She is a bold and provocative scholar who has never been satisfied with traditional knowledge. She digs deeper, and that is how she has been able to write on issues that range from political philosophy to education, and social justice. A path-breaking historian and analyst, her works on political philosophy [have] appealed to readers and thinkers from across ideological divides, and the moral vision she offers for America—equality and equity across board—make her deserving of this prize.
Ruth R. Faden, Professor of Biomedical Ethics at Johns Hopkins University and member of the Scholars Council, said about Allen:
At a time when increasing polarization seems to be a defining characteristic of our public life, and foundations of our democracy are increasingly threatened, the importance of Professor Allen’s work on democratic theory and the history of political thought looms large. It is not just Professor Allen’s scholarship that makes her a worthy candidate, it is also her commitment to moving from democracy scholarship to democracy preservation (e.g. the Democratic Knowledge Project).