Civic Life

Empowering students from all areas of study to be engaged global citizens.

What does it take for people to engage productively as informed, skilled, and effective members of democratic communities and the world? The area of civic studies examines why such skills are foundational to making liberal democracy work in pluralistic societies, how such capacities can be nurtured, and the historical and contemporary struggles to realize these principles. It is an applied and interdisciplinary field, incorporating critical reflection, ethical thinking, empirical understanding, historical perspectives, and action for social change within and between societies. 

The aim is to equip students with the skills and motivation they need to engage productively in civic life, no matter where they live, or what they do.

Hahrie Han, Inaugural director of the SNF Agora Institute


Introduction to Civic Life

This course introduces the theory and principles of civic life and the rights and responsibilities of active citizenship. We’ll examine the history of and struggles for freedom, inclusion, and civic participation; the role of information, deliberation, and free expression in the public sphere; and the threats and opportunities for global democracy.

Civic Life Seminar

This seminar builds on the foundational questions of civic life discussed in “Introduction to Civic Life” course with a heavier emphasis on action: developing and practicing skills that are needed for active citizenship. Students will become well-versed in principles of collective action, communication, and the science of collaboration.

Science and Democracy

What role does scientific expertise play (or not play) in American democracy? And shat role should it play (or not play)? These are the key questions we’ll address in this class, focusing on a wide range of examples such as government responses to public health crises, environmental crises, and war. 

Join the Club

Hopkins students are eager to pursue their interests outside the classroom. With 450+ student-led organizations, here are just a few you could join: