Democracy Initiative

Democracy is in crisis at home and abroad. Polarization is high, trust is low, and public discourse is toxic. At a time when many universities are grappling with their role in American democracy, Notre Dame is uniquely situated to respond to this crisis. The Notre Dame Democracy Initiative will establish Notre Dame as a leader in the study of democracy both in the U.S. and worldwide, as a convenor for conversations about and actions to preserve democracy, and as a model for the formation of civically engaged citizens and public servants. This University-wide initiative bridges research, education, and policy work across multiple units and will extend beyond campus to policymakers and federal agencies in Washington, D.C.

Democracy has been in the spotlight this academic year, with the 2023–24 Notre Dame Forum focusing on The Future of Democracy. Also coming in the spring are new results from the latest wave of the Notre Dame Health of Democracy Study, the inaugural Global Democracy Forum, hosted by the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, and the second annual Keeping The Republic conference (focused on democracy in the U.S.), hosted by the Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy.

In addition, there has been a lot of work behind the scenes to promote democracy at Notre Dame. The Initiative director has been meeting with interested faculty and leaders of stakeholder units on campus, as well as potential partners beyond campus. In November, the Initiative’s executive committee held an official kickoff meeting to discuss the vision for and future of the Initiative, and this spring a managing director was hired. 

Joel Day begins in that role on June 1. He is a scholar-practitioner who brings over 20 years of leadership experience in government, nonprofits, and political campaigns along with academic appointments at Princeton University, the University of Southern California, and the University of California San Diego. His research and policy writing have appeared in dozens of scholarly and popular outlets and recently won the American Political Science Association award for best article in Religion & Politics. Day holds a Ph.D. in international and comparative politics from the University of Denver. 


Golden Dome with American flag and Notre Dame flag

Notre Dame launches Democracy Initiative

The University of Notre Dame has launched an ambitious new Democracy Initiative, an interdisciplinary research, education and policy effort focused on advancing solutions to sustain and strengthen global democracy.

Read the announcement

Notre Dame student intern standing in front of the U.S. Capitol building

Learn more about the Democracy Initiative

Download the information sheet

Executive Committee

  1. Dave Campbell

    David Campbell

    Director, Democracy Initiative

    Packey J. Dee Professor of American Democracy, Department of Political Science

    Email Biography

  2. Scott Appleby

    Scott Appleby

    Marilyn Keough Dean, Keough School of Global Affairs; Professor of History

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  3. Marcus Cole

    Marcus Cole

    Joseph A. Matson Dean, Notre Dame Law School; Professor of Law

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  4. David Go

    David Go

    Vice President and Associate Provost for Academic Strategy; Viola D. Hank Professor, Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

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  5. Matthew Hall

    Matthew Hall

    Director, Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy; David A. Potenziani Memorial College Professor of Constitutional Studies

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  6. Geoff Layman

    Geoffrey Layman

    Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science

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  7. Jen Mason Mcaward

    Jennifer Mason McAward

    Director, Klau Institute for Civil and Human Rights; Associate Professor of Law

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  8. Anibal Perez Linan

    Anibal Perez-Linan

    Director, Kellogg Institute for International Studies; Professor of Political Science and Global Affairs

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  9. Michael Pries

    Michael Pries

    Associate Dean for the Social Sciences, College of Arts and Letters; Professor, Department of Economics

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