Skip to the main content
This is a Berkman Klein alum page. The information below may be out of date.

Danielle Allen is James Bryant Conant University Professor and Director of the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Ethics. She is a professor of political philosophy, ethics, and public policy. She is also a seasoned nonprofit leader, democracy advocate, national voice on pandemic response, distinguished author, and mom. 

Danielle’s work to make the world better for young people has taken her from teaching college and leading a $60 million university division to driving change at the helm of a $6 billion foundation, writing as a national opinion columnist, advocating for cannabis legalization, democracy reform, and civic education, and most recently, to running for governor of Massachusetts. During the height of COVID in 2020, Danielle’s leadership in rallying coalitions and building solutions resulted in the country’s first-ever Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience; her policies were adopted in federal legislation and a presidential executive order. Danielle made history as the first Black woman ever to run for statewide office in Massachusetts. She was the 2020 winner of the Library of Congress' Kluge Prize, which recognizes scholarly achievement in the disciplines not covered by the Nobel Prize. She received the Prize "for her internationally recognized scholarship in political theory and her commitment to improving democratic practice and civics education."    

A past chair of the Mellon Foundation and Pulitzer Prize Board, she is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and American Philosophical Society. As a scholar, she currently concentrates on the Democratic Knowledge Project and Justice, Health, and Democracy Impact Initiative, housed at the Safra Center, on the Allen Lab for Democracy Renovation, housed at Harvard’s Ash Center, and on the Our Common Purpose Commission at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Learning from the natural sciences, she has built a lab to extend the impact of work in the humanities and social sciences.    

Her many books include the widely acclaimed Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship Since Brown v Board of Education;  Our Declaration: a reading of the Declaration of Independence in defense of equality; Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A.; Democracy in the Time of Coronavirus; and the forthcoming Justice by Means of Democracy. She writes a column on constitutional democracy for the Washington Post. 

Outside the University, she is Founder and President for Partners In Democracy, where she continues to advocate for democracy reform to create greater voice and access in our democracy, and drive progress towards a new social contract that serves and includes us all. She also serves on the board of the Cambridge Health Alliance. Danielle’s Harvard faculty website is available here. Her personal website is available here


Amanpour and Company

From Plato to Present: Tracing the Roots of American Justice

Danielle Allen joins Amanpour and Company to discuss American Justice.

Apr 21, 2021
Harvard Magazine

What Do COVID-19 and Extreme Inequality Mean for American Democracy?

Danielle Allen joins the Ask a Harvard Professor podcast to discuss COVID-19 and American democracy.

Nov 2, 2020
The New York Times

Danielle Allen Wins Re-envisioned Kluge Humanities Prize

Award administered by the Library of Congress recognizes work in disciplines not covered by the Nobel Prizes.

Jun 22, 2020
TED Connects

An ethical plan for ending the pandemic and restarting the economy

Danielle Allen describes how the US could use technology to ethically and democratically address both the public health emergency and economic crisis by scaling up "smart testing."

Apr 8, 2020
The Atlantic

The Road From Serfdom

Danielle Allen ponders how Americans can become citizens again.

Dec 6, 2019
The Harvard Gazette

Is technology evil?

HubWeek discussion looks at the ethics of individuals and an industry

Oct 4, 2019
The Washington Post

In an impeachment hearing, we are all jurors

If this is our moment of something like national jury duty, what are we called to judge?

Oct 2, 2019

An inspiring conversation about democracy

What a democratic policy agenda would look like, how to talk to strangers, and why we need to reform civic education.

Sep 30, 2019
The Washington Post

Here’s one more question parents should think about during back-to-school season

We need civics education in schools to build effective democratic citizens, says BKC faculty associate Danielle Allen

Sep 5, 2019