UMass Donahue Institute  

The Civic Initiative is dedicated to Civic Education at Home and Abroad

Constitutional Democracy is a Massachusetts tradition. One of the authors of the Massachusetts constitution, John Adams once observed, "…The Revolution was effected before the War commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and the hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations.... This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution."

The radical change observed by Adams was the movement of a people from thinking of themselves as subjects to understanding themselves as citizens. Adams’ observation also highlights the importance of sentiment and liberal institutions in the construction and maintenance of a just government.

Now, over 200 years into our experiment with Constitutional Democracy, we are faced with new responsibilities and challenges. Americans are confronting and redefining their roles and responsibilities as citizens. Americans are asked to support world wide democratic development, while, at the same time, our own rates of participation and trust decline.

The Civic Initiative will develop an informed, active, and free citizenry through diverse program and grant offerings that combine international and local perspectives on Democracy and Free Institutions. The Civic Initiative will operate on three guiding principles

In an increasingly interconnected world we can neither ignore what is going on overseas or next door – and we must explore how one does — and can — influence the other.

We are the Civic Initiative and not the Democracy Initiative because the success or failure of a democratic regime hinges on free institutions and popular mores.

It is part of the core mission of a public university to advocate for civic education and the presentation of diverse views in an academic setting.


The Civic Initiative was launched in 2003 by Michael Hannahan, the current Director. Having spent years teaching and working in politics and government he wanted to create an organization to promote civic education and foster research on democracy. His ideas found a home at the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute.

The Civic Initiative won its first grant in 2003; a U.S. Department of Education award through the Teaching American History program. The Constitutional History Renewal Project, as the program was called, brought to area K-12 teachers content knowledge, speakers, and curriculum resources about constitutional issues in American history.

The Civic Initiative currently oversees 8-10 grant-funded programs worth over $1.5 million dollars annually. These range from a new Teaching American History award, People In Motion, to the Study of the U.S. Institute on American Politics and Political Thought, which brings international professors to the United States each summer to learn from American professors and experts in American political development.

Board of Advisors

Sean Barry

Lawrence Becker, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
California State University Northridge
Department of Political Science

Cort Boulanger
Vice President
Massachusetts High Technology Council

Jennifer Braceras
University of Massachusetts

Steven Bradley
Vice President Government andCommunity Relations
Baystate Health

Carole Brennan
Brown Rudnick

Stephen P. Crosby
John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies
University of Massachusetts Boston

Alison Dagnes
Associate Professor
Department of Political Science
Shippensburg University

John Della Volpe
Prime Group, LLC
Director of Polling
Harvard University Institute of Politics

Roger Desrosiers
State Coordinator
We The People

Doug Dratch
General Printing, Inc.

Jerold Duquette, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Central Connecticut State University
Department of Political Science

David Floreen
Senior Vice President Government Affairs
Massachusetts Bankers Association

Peter Forman
President and CEO
South Shore Chamber of Commerce

Michael Goodman, Ph.D.
Director, Economic and Public Policy Research
University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute

Paul Herrnson, Ph.D.
Professor and Director
University of Maryland, Center for American Politics and Citizenship

Gary Huggett
High School Teacher
Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School

Dominick Ianno
Vice President
Gray Media

Douglas Lathrop, Ph.D.
Corporate Vice President, Office of Government Affairs
New York Life Insurance Company

Dwight H. Merriam
Robinson and Cole, LLP

Jerome Mileur, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, Department of
Political Science
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Kerry Mulcahy
High School Teacher
Doherty Memorial High School,
UMass Amherst Alumni Assoc. Board Executive Committee

David Oliveira
Senior Vice President
Cassidy & Associates

Diane Palmer, Ph.D.
State Coordinator
Project Citizen

Stacey Rainey
Manager, Partners in Learning Initiative
Microsoft Corporation

Henri Rauschenbach
Smith and Rauschenbach

Ann Reale
Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care

Robert Rosen
Greyhawke Capital Advisors, LLC

W. Greg Rothman
President and CEO
RSR Realtors

Jim Spencer
The Campaign Network

Scott Taberner
Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership

Eric Thompson, Ph.D.
Director, International Affairs Group
Center for Naval Analyses

Ralph Whitehead, Jr.
UMass Amherst
Department of Journalism

Ex Officio Members

J. Lynn Griesemer, Ed.D.
Associate Vice President for Economic Development and
Executive Director of the UMass Donahue Institute
University of Massachusetts

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