Danielle Allen

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Danielle Allen
Allen in 2017
Born (1971-11-03) November 3, 1971 (age 52)
Political partyDemocratic
ParentWilliam B. Allen (father)
AwardsKluge Prize (2020)
Francis Parkman Prize (2015)
Academic background
EducationPrinceton University (BA)
King's College, Cambridge (MPhil, PhD)
Harvard University (MA, PhD)
Academic work
Political science
InstitutionsUniversity of Chicago
Institute for Advanced Study
Harvard University

Danielle Susan Allen (born November 3, 1971) is an American classicist and political scientist. She is the James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University.[1][2] She is also the former Director of the Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.

Prior to joining the faculty at Harvard in 2015, Allen was UPS Foundation Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.[3][4] Allen is the daughter of political scientist William B. Allen.[5]

Allen was a contributing columnist at The Washington Post until she announced in December 2020 that she was exploring a run for Governor of Massachusetts in 2022.[6][7][8] She formally announced her campaign for the Democratic Party nomination in June 2021, but then dropped out of the race in February 2022.[9][10]

Early life and education[edit]

Allen was born in 1971[11] in Takoma Park, Maryland.[12] She is the daughter of political scientist William B. Allen. Her mother was a librarian and her parents married at a time when interracial marriage was illegal.[13] Her ancestors were slaves and she is mixed-raced. Allen's grandfather was a Baptist preacher who helped found the first NAACP chapter in North Florida and her great-grandmother was a suffragette.[14]

Allen attended Claremont High School in California.[5][15] She then matriculated at Princeton University, where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in classics, summa cum laude, in 1993 with membership in Phi Beta Kappa.[16] Allen completed a senior thesis titled "The State of Judgment" under the supervision of Andre Laks.[17]

Allen received a Marshall Scholarship to study at King's College at the University of Cambridge, where she received a Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in classics in 1994 and 1996, respectively.[2] Her dissertation was titled "A Situation of Punishment: The Politics and Ideology of Athenian Punishment".[18] Allen then pursued further graduate studies at Harvard University, earning a Master of Arts (M.A.) in government in 1998 and a Ph.D. in government in 2001.[2] Her second dissertation was titled "Intricate Democracy: Hobbes, Ellison, and Aristotle on Distrust, Rhetoric, and Civic Friendship".[19]

Academic career[edit]

From 1997 to 2007, she served on the faculty of the University of Chicago, earning appointments as a professor of both classics and political science, as well as membership on the university's Committee on Social Thought. She served as Dean of the Division of the Humanities from 2004 to 2007.[20] She organized The Dewey Seminar: Education, Schools and the State, with Rob Reich.[21]

She is a former trustee of Amherst College[22] and Princeton University,[23] and is a past chair of the Pulitzer Prize board[24] where she served from 2007 to 2015.[25] She was the UPS Foundation Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, before joining the Harvard faculty and becoming director of the Safra Center in 2015.[26]

Allen welcoming Agnes Callard to give the Mala and Solomon Kamm Lecture in Ethics in 2023

She was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow in 2001, in recognition of her combining "the classicist's careful attention to texts and language with the political theorist's sophisticated and informed engagement". An elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society,[27] Allen is a past chair of the Mellon Foundation board of trustees.[28]

The New Yorker published Allen's "The Life of a South Central Statistic" in its July 24, 2017 issue.[29]

Together with Stephen B. Heintz and Eric Liu, Allen chaired the bipartisan Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[30] The commission, which was launched "to explore how best to respond to the weaknesses and vulnerabilities in our political and civic life and to enable more Americans to participate as effective citizens in a diverse 21st-century democracy", issued a report, titled Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century, in June 2020. The report included strategies and policy recommendations "to help the nation emerge as a more resilient democracy by 2026".[31]

In October 2022, Allen joined the Council for Responsible Social Media project launched by Issue One to address the negative mental, civic, and public health impacts of social media in the United States co-chaired by former House Democratic Caucus Leader Dick Gephardt and former Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey.[32][33]

Political career[edit]

Allen announced in December 2020 that she would explore a candidacy in the 2022 Massachusetts gubernatorial race.[34] She announced on February 15, 2022, that she had no path, and ended her campaign on "pure math."[10][35]

Personal life[edit]

Allen was born in Takoma Park, Maryland, U.S.,[12] but was raised in Claremont, California where her father taught at Harvey Mudd College.[36] She graduated from Claremont High School.[37]

Her father, William B. Allen, is a political philosopher and former chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.[38] Her mother, Susan, was a research librarian.[36] She is married to James Doyle[25] with two children.

Awards and honors[edit]


  • Justice by Means of Democracy. University of Chicago Press. 2023. ISBN 9780226777122.
  • Democracy in the Time of Coronavirus. University of Chicago Press. 2022. ISBN 9780226815619.
  • Difference Without Domination. University of Chicago Press. 2020. ISBN 978-0226681191.
  • Cuz: An American Tragedy. Liveright. 2018. ISBN 978-1-63149-311-9.
  • Education and Equality. University of Chicago Press. 2016. ISBN 978-0226373102.
  • From Voice to Influence: Understanding Citizenship in a Digital Age. University of Chicago Press. 2015. ISBN 978-0-226-26212-3.
  • Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality. W. W. Norton. 2015. ISBN 978-1631490446.
  • Education, Justice and Democracy. University of Chicago. 2013. ISBN 9780226012933.
  • Why Plato Wrote. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2010. ISBN 978-1-4443-3448-7.
  • "It's Up to Obama". Democracy (16). Spring 2010.
  • Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship Since Brown vs. the Board of Education. University of Chicago Press. 2004. ISBN 978-0-226-01466-1.
  • The World of Prometheus: The Politics of Punishing in Democratic Athens. Princeton University Press. 2002 [2000]. ISBN 978-0-691-09489-2.


  1. ^ "University Professorships | Harvard University". Harvard University. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Steinbock, Anna (November 14, 2016). "Danielle Allen named University Professor". The Harvard Gazette. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  3. ^ "Allen Bio". IAS.edu. December 9, 2019.
  4. ^ "Press release". IAS.edu. March 21, 1987. Archived from the original on August 8, 2018. Retrieved April 17, 2010.
  5. ^ a b Ramesh, Randeep (April 30, 2013). "Danielle Allen: Equity not equality". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved January 7, 2024.
  6. ^ "Danielle Allen". Washington Post. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  7. ^ "Why I'm exploring a run for governor of Massachusetts". Washington Post. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  8. ^ "Danielle Allen, leader at Harvard, exploring run for governor of Massachusetts". Boston Globe. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  9. ^ "Danielle Allen, A Harvard Ethicist, Launches Historic Bid For Governor". WBUR. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  10. ^ a b Kuznitz, Allison (February 15, 2022). "Harvard professor Danielle Allen dropping out of Democratic race for Massachusetts governor". MassLive. Retrieved February 15, 2022.
  11. ^ a b "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved January 7, 2024.
  12. ^ a b Zongker, Brett (June 22, 2020). "Library of Congress to Award Kluge Prize for Achievement in the Study of Humanity to Danielle Allen". Center for Research on Computation & Society. Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
  13. ^ "Democracy Advocate Danielle Allen to Give Caltech's 129th Commencement Address". California Institute of Technology. February 23, 2023. Retrieved January 7, 2024.
  14. ^ Rieder, Mary (2021–2022). "Danielle Allen (b. 1971)". Todd Wehr Memorial Library. Viterbo University. Retrieved January 7, 2024.
  15. ^ Weinberger, Peter (September 29, 2021). "Former Claremonter Danielle Allen running for Massachusetts governor". Claremont Courier. Retrieved January 7, 2024.
  16. ^ Allen, Danielle (January 2023). "Danielle S. Allen – CV" (PDF). Harvard University. Retrieved January 7, 2024.
  17. ^ Allen, Danielle Susan. Laks, Andre; Princeton University. Department of Classics (eds.). "The State of Judgment". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  18. ^ Allen, Danielle (2018). Dissertation/Theses: A situation of punishment : the politics and ideology of Athenian punishment. Oxford Libraries Online — Bodleian Library (Thesis). University of Oxford. doi:10.17863/CAM.19435.
  19. ^ "Dissertation: Intricate democracy : Hobbes, Ellison, and Aristotle on distrust, rhetoric, and civic friendship". HOLLIS – Harvard Library. Harvard University. Retrieved January 7, 2024.
  20. ^ "Danielle S. Allen". Institute for Advanced Study. Retrieved March 23, 2017.
  21. ^ "Double Serendipity: Danielle Allen and the Institute for Advanced Study's Sympoium on Technology and Education". madisonian.net. January 14, 2010.
  22. ^ "Trustees". amherst.edu. Archived from the original on September 10, 2015. Retrieved January 13, 2015.
  23. ^ "Alumni, parent join Board of Trustees". Princeton Alumni Weekly. July 7, 2010. Retrieved February 16, 2023.
  24. ^ "Pulitzer Prize Board 2014–2015". pulitzer.org. Retrieved January 13, 2015.
  25. ^ a b Lenfield, Spencer Lee (April 15, 2016). "The Egalitarian". Harvard Magazine. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  26. ^ "Danielle Allen named to Harvard posts". Harvard Gazette. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  27. ^ "APS Member History". search.amphilsoc.org. Retrieved March 1, 2021.
  28. ^ "Kathryn Hall Succeeds Danielle S. Allen as Board Chair of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Thelma Golden and Joshua Friedman Join the Board" (Press release). New York, NY: Mellon Foundation. March 6, 2019. Retrieved February 16, 2023.
  29. ^ "Danielle Allen". The New Yorker.
  30. ^ "Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship". American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
  31. ^ "Our Common Purpose". American Academy of Arts & Sciences. June 11, 2020. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
  32. ^ Feiner, Lauren (October 12, 2022). "Facebook whistleblower, former defense and intel officials form group to fix social media". CNBC. Retrieved October 12, 2022.
  33. ^ "Council for Responsible Social Media – Issue One". issueone.org. Retrieved October 12, 2022.
  34. ^ Nair, Meera S.; Wang, Andy Z. (December 20, 2020). "Harvard Professor Danielle Allen 'Exploring' Candidacy for Massachusetts Governor in 2022". The Harvard Crimson.
  35. ^ Greater Boston Staff (February 17, 2022). "'It's just pure math': Why Danielle Allen dropped out of the governor's race". GBH News. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  36. ^ a b Danielle S. Allen. University of Miami. 2014. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  37. ^ "Meet Danielle". allenforma.com. February 18, 2021. Retrieved June 29, 2021.
  38. ^ Ramesh, Randeep (April 30, 2013). "Danielle Allen: Equity not equality". The Guardian.
  39. ^ "Danielle Allen Awarded Kluge Prize by Library of Congress | News | The Harvard Crimson". www.thecrimson.com. Retrieved June 29, 2020.
  40. ^ "Parkman prize awarded to book on Declaration of Independence". ksl.com. May 11, 2015. Retrieved November 13, 2020.
  41. ^ "Danielle Allen – MacArthur Foundation".

External links[edit]