President Barack Obama delivers a health care address to a joint session of Congress at the United States Capitol

Democratic Reform

At the Ash Center, we’re working to generate new ideas to reform our democratic institutions for the 21st century.

Lucas, Flickr, Creative Commons

Many of our most basic democratic institutions, from the Electoral College to Congress itself, were born in the eighteenth century when American democracy and America looked markedly different than today. At the Ash Center, we’re working to modernize and reform these institutions for a healthy 21st-century democracy.

As political polarization continues to test the strength of even our most bedrock political institutions, the Ash Center brings together scholars, practitioners, and policymakers from across the country to discuss how to protect and modernize our democracy.

Through working groups and convenings, case studies, and research projects, the Ash Center is working to identify reforms both large and small that will help strengthen the future of American democracy for generations to come.

The Latest News, Research, and Resources


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New research outlines novel partisan solution to partisan gerrymandering
Photo of a gerrymandered map of North Carolina

Media Release

New research outlines novel partisan solution to partisan gerrymandering

In a new paper in Political Analysis, Ben Schneer, Assistant Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, alongside co-authors Maxwell Palmer, Associate Professor, Boston University; and Kevin DeLuca, Assistant Professor, Yale University; present a new method for drawing legislative boundaries, the Define–Combine Procedure.

Charting a new course for the future of American conservatism
Photo of the capitol building with an elephant shadow on it

Q+A

Charting a new course for the future of American conservatism

As divisions within the GOP were on vivid display last month during the tumult over the US House Speaker’s gavel, the Kennedy School’s Steve Goldsmith and UT-Austin’s Ryan Streeter ask whether conservatives should embrace a more aspirational, ideas-driven future?

Book Talk – When Democracy Breaks
graphic with the event details

Video

Book Talk – When Democracy Breaks

The Ash Center invites you to watch a book talk with contributors to When Democracy Breaks (Oxford, 2023), a new edited volume intended to deepen our understanding of what separates democratic resilience from democratic fragility — by focusing on the latter.

In new discussion paper, Stephen Goldsmith and Ryan Streeter lay out a case for a new, more aspirational conservatism
Photo of the capitol building with an elephant shadow on it

Media Release

In new discussion paper, Stephen Goldsmith and Ryan Streeter lay out a case for a new, more aspirational conservatism

In a recently published discussion paper from the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School, Stephen Goldsmith and Ryan Streeter propose a new ideological framework for the conservative movement in the United States centered around aspiration, opportunity, and personal responsibility to help drive upward mobility.

How will the Voting Rights Act ruling impact redistricting?
photo of the top of a court house

Feature

How will the Voting Rights Act ruling impact redistricting?

According to Kennedy School’s Benjamin Schneer, the decision that an Alabama congressional map illegally weakened the power of Black voters has implications beyond the southern state’s borders.

Bruce Schneier Wants to Recreate Democracy
Photo of the capitol building seemingly under construction with a tech background

Feature

Bruce Schneier Wants to Recreate Democracy

Arguing that American democracy has been hacked, the computer security expert doesn’t want to just fiddle on the margins when it comes to re-envisioning what a new 21st-century American democracy should look like.

Democracy on the Precipice?

Feature

Democracy on the Precipice?

Archon Fung on the threats to American democracy and what we can do about it.

Democracy on the Precipice?

Video

Democracy on the Precipice?

On Thursday, March 9, 2023, Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation Director Archon Fung, Winthrop Laflin McCormack Professor of Citizenship and Self-Government at the Harvard Kennedy School, spoke to Kennedy School community members about threats to American democracy and how we can overcome them.