Danielle Allen, James Bryant Conant University Professor and Director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, 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 five books: The World of Prometheus: The Politics of Punishing in Democratic Athens (2000), Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown v. Board of Education (2004), Why Plato Wrote (2010), Our Declaration (2014), and Education and Equality (2016). She is also co-editor with Robert Reich of Education, Justice, and Democracy (2013) and with Jennifer Light of From Voice to Influence: Understanding Citizenship in a Digital Age (2015). A 2001 MacArthur Foundation Fellow, she is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the Society of American Historians. Our Declaration was awarded the 2015 Francis Parkman Prize and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Award for nonfiction, and Allen is also a contributing columnist for The Washington Post.
Professor Allen was educated at Princeton (AB, 1993), Cambridge (PhD, 1996) and Harvard (PhD, 2000). Before taking up the Directorship of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, she was UPS Foundation Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton) and before that, served as Dean of the Division of Humanities and Professor of Political Science, Classical Languages and Literature, and of the Committee on Social Thought, at the University of Chicago. In addition to her academic service, Professor Allen has served as a member and Chair of the Pulitzer Prize board, Vice Chair and Chair of the Mellon Foundation board, and a member of the Open Society Foundations’ U.S. Programs Board.
Professor Allen’s current work focuses on the connection between education and democratic equality, as well as the significance of political equality for theoretical accounts of justice. She is also the principal investigator for two major research projects: the Humanities and Liberal Arts Assessment Project (HULA), which focuses on the study of humanistic work and liberal arts pedagogy from the point of view of their status as craft practices; and the Declaration Resources Project, which focuses on ongoing research about the Declaration of Independence and the production of digital resources in support of pedagogy about the American founding era. Finally, she is a member of the MacArthur Foundation research network on youth and participatory politics, which focuses on the impact of new media on the political lives of young people.