Hahrie Han

Inaugural Director of the SNF Agora Institute and Professor of Political Science, Johns Hopkins University
Areas of Expertise:

About Hahrie

Han’s expertise lies in the areas of civic engagement, political organizing, democratic leadership development, and political polarization. Specifically, she studies the way people become motivated to get involved in politics, looking particularly at the organizing practices democratic institutions can use to engage people. She also studies the causes and consequences of polarization in the United States. She has conducted trainings and research with a number of different organizations interested in political organizing, including the Center for Community Change, the New Organizing Institute, MoveOn, Doctors for America, the Sierra Club, the Institutes for Healthcare Improvement, Greenpeace, and others. Han acted as co-convener of a Policy Advisory Committee for the 2008 Obama campaign, Chair of the Advisory Committee to the EAC Agency Review Team on the Obama-Biden Transition Team, and served as National Issues and Policy Advisor to Senator Bill Bradley’s presidential campaign in 1999-2000. From 2008-2011, Han sat on the Sierra Club's Volunteer Leadership Advisory Committee, an advisory committee to the national board.


How to Revitalize America's Local Political Parties

  • Kenneth T. Andrews
  • Alexander W. Hertel-Fernandez
  • Lara Putnam
  • Daniel Schlozman
  • Theda Skocpol
  • Vanessa S. Williamson
  • Sarah E. James
  • Caroline Tervo
  • Michael Zoorob

How Civic Associations Can Create Committed Leaders

  • Kenneth T. Andrews
  • Matthew Baggetta

In the News

Quoted by in "COVID-19 and World Order: The Future of Conflict, Competition, and Cooperation," Business Insider, September 10, 2020.
Opinion: "How Higher Education Empowers Student Voters," Hahrie Han, Inside Higher Ed, December 9, 2019.
Opinion: "Want Gun Control? Learn From the N.R.A.," Hahrie Han, New York Times, October 4, 2017.
Quoted by Jim Logan in "A Climate of Cooperation," The Current, June 22, 2017.
Interviewed in "How a Scientist Who Studies Marches Sees the March for Science," The Atlantic, April 19, 2017.
Opinion: "What Hillary Clinton Can Learn from Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump," Hahrie Han (with Marshall Ganz), The Nation, June 23, 2016.
Quoted by Derek Willis in "Why Democrats Still Lead Republicans in Online Fund-Raising," New York Times, January 22, 2015.
Opinion: "Engaging Voters Can Kickstart Community Activism," Hahrie Han (with Elizabeth McKenna), The Washington Post, November 25, 2014.
Opinion: "Investing in People Not Tools: How to Fulfill the Promise of ‘Civic Tech’," Hahrie Han, The Conversation, October 29, 2014.
Interviewed in "Want to Create Activists? Here’s How.," The Washington Post, October 26, 2014.
Guest on Radio Boston, September 23, 2014.
Opinion: "The Supreme Court Upholds Health Reform. What Will it Mean to Voters?," Hahrie Han, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Human Capital Blog, July 5, 2012.
Opinion: "How to Change the Dialogue on Women’s Reproductive Rights," Hahrie Han, The Huffington Post, April 5, 2012.
Opinion: "We Can Fix the Supercommittee," Hahrie Han, The Washington Post, November 18, 2011.
Research discussed by Jessica Ruvinsky, in "Lone Wolves vs. Teams," Stanford Social Innovation Review, Spring 2012.
Research discussed by Joy Cushman, Benjamin R. Farley, and Pilar Weiss, in "Engaging the Emerging Majority, The Case for Voter Registration in 2012 and Beyond," New Organizing Institute Education Fund, December 2011.


"Groundbreakers: How Obama's 2.2 Million Volunteers Transformed Campaigning in America" (with Elizabeth McKenna) (Oxford University Press, 2015).
Argues that the Obama campaign altered traditional ground games by adopting the principles and practices of community organizing and that a key achievement of the OFA's field organizing was its transformative effect on those who were a part of it. Documents how the Obama campaign has inspired a new way of running field campaigns, with lessons for national and international political and civic movements.
"Leading Associations: How Individual Characteristics and Team Dynamics Generate Committed Leaders" (with Matthew Baggetta and Kenneth T. Andrews). American Sociological Review (June 2013).
Shows how teams that work interdependently are better able to generate committed leaders and activists.
"What Civic Organizations Can Do to Engage Citizens in Environmental Action" Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development 54, no. 1 (2011): 38-40.
Discusses strategies civic associations can use to motivate more activism.
"Moved to Action: Motivation, Participation, and Inequality in American Politics" (Stanford University Press, 2009).
Shows how people’s personal commitments motivate them to take political action, particularly among disadvantaged groups. Discusses the importance of interpersonal relationships in generating activism.
"Does the Content of Political Appeals Matter in Motivating Participation? A Field Experiment on Self-Disclosure in Political Appeals" Political Behavior 31, no. 1 (2009): 103.

Shows that political appeals that include personal narratives are more likely to generate donations to civic associations.

"A Delayed Return to Historical Norms: Congressional Party Polarization after the Second World War" (with David W. Brady). British Journal of Political Science 37, no. 3 (2007): 505-531.
Shows that polarization has been the norm throughout much of American history and explores the historical dimensions of change.