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Hahrie Han

Political scientist, Director of SNF Agora Institute, and social change thought leader

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  • About Hahrie Han

    Hahrie Han is a political scientist who is a leading expert on social movements and human transformation. She is Inaugural Director of the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University and the faculty director of the P3 Research Lab. The P3 lab seeks to make the participation of ordinary people “Possible, Probable, and Powerful,” using observational and experimental methods to study civic and political engagement, collective action, organizing, and democratic revitalization. Han is the award-winning author of four books, with her fifth book, Undivided: The Quest for Racial Solidarity in An American Church, coming in September 2024.

    In Undivided, Han looks at the members of a megachurch in Ohio struggling to bridge racial divides in their community. She chronicles the story of how a group of parishioners developed a program designed to foster antiracism and systemic change and how four participants—two men, one Black and one white, and two women, one Black and one white—were fundamentally altered by the program. As each of their journeys unfolded, in unpredictable and sometimes painful ways, they came to better understand one another, and to believe in the transformative possibilities for racial solidarity in a moment of deep divisiveness in America.

    As a speaker, Han combines data-driven expertise with inspirational delivery and actionable takeaways. Her  presentations are not just thought-provoking, they provide practical strategies that attendees can implement immediately. Her goal is to empower individuals and organizations to make a real difference in their communities.

    Han has published numerous articles in leading scholarly outlets, including the American Political Science Review, the American Sociological ReviewNature Human Behavior, PNAS, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and elsewhere. She has also written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and others. She is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, was named a 2022 Social Innovation Thought Leader of the Year by the World Economic Forum’s Schwab Foundation, and delivered the prestigious Tanner Lectures at Harvard University in 2024.

    Contact us for more information about booking Hahrie Han for your next event. 

  • Speaking Topics

    The Science of Social Change: Building Effective Movements

    Why do some grassroots movements “take off” while others appear to have no impact? How can an organization rally large groups of people in support of an idea or policy? What is the magic ingredient that leads to social change? In this talk Hahrie Han synthesizes data and research on social change to describe the science—not magic— behind effective movement building. She highlights her concept of “P3,” whereby building people power depends on understanding how to make participation “possible, probable, and powerful.” Through compelling examples and evidence-based research, Han illuminates the pathways to achieving long-term societal transformation and explains what differentiates a successful movement from an unsuccessful one.

    Revitalizing Democracy

    The erosion of democracy in America and all over the world raises fundamental questions about what democracy is and what makes it work. In this powerful talk, Hahrie Han reveals that democracy is only ever as strong as people's commitment to it and that commitment depends on the ability of people from all backgrounds to become architects of their own futures. Sharing stories and examples from her research, Han talks about how democracy is being realized in communities across America in ways we don’t always recognize. She argues that bridging political divides and moving beyond identity politics will depend on reconstructing the ways people experience politics in their everyday lives and examines how to rebuild the system. Han can also address the ways that AI technology can enhance or undermine democracy and why an understanding of the relationship between AI and democracy needs to be taken into account and shape the way we design AI systems.

    Bridging Divide and Finding Belonging

    In a talk based on her book Undivided: The Quest for Racial Solidarity in an American Church, Hahrie Han demonstrates how faith communities can be powerful places to shape people's ability to come together across political and racial divides. She chronicles the unexpected experiences of members of an evangelical megachurch, located in America’s Rust Belt, struggling to bridge racial divides in their church and community through a program designed to cultivate meaningful relationships and foster antiracism grounded in action. Through these stories, Han shows the importance of belonging over ideological belief and offers a hopeful look at the ways ordinary people can effect change.

  • Video

  • Praise for Hahrie Han

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    We could not have asked for a more thoughtful, engaging, and electrifying Tanner lecturer.

    The Tanner Lectures, Mahindra Humanities Center
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    The lectures were riveting. They helped build understanding about how people believe and belong, which is so essential to realizing the inclusive democracy all people deserve. I have so much respect for Hahrie Han’s work, scholarship, and storytelling.

    Sanjiv Rao, Democracy Fund

    Praise for Undivided

    A compellingly written, meticulously researched, on the ground examination of the relationship between the Evangelicalism and racism. Driven by stories of ordinary people struggling for racial justice, this book opens up a landscape beyond the headlines and social media feeds, offering hope and insight about how to address America’s original sin. In doing so, it offers pastoral wisdom for church and social movement leaders to understand better the dynamics of organizing for real change.

    Luke Bretherton, Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, Oxford University

    Hahrie Han has put heart and soul into telling the inspiring story of a beacon of racial progress that may seem unlikely: a program for working-class people at a Midwestern evangelical megachurch. With wisdom, humanity, and great narrative skill, Han persuades us that there is a way forward in the struggle against racism, if we are willing to be patient, to trust one another, and to operate from shared faith.”

    Nicholas Lemann, author of Transaction Man

    In Undivided, Hahrie Han has given us a brilliant, intimate, and moving story of real people working for true actionable change and transformative justice within their communities. Deeply researched and immersive, Undivided offers a critical and ground-breaking intervention into a surprising tale that recenters our understanding of American social movements, religion, race, and democracy.

    Leah Wright Rigueur, author of The Loneliness of the Black Republican

    Undivided is a remarkable book that takes readers on a poignant journey through the messy complexities of faith, racism, and personal transformation in a painfully fraught political world. It is a meaningful, person-centered, richly informed reflection on the problems and possibilities of faith-based, community-rooted solidarity. Undivided inspires, challenges, and opens its readers eyes to the difficult realities of how personal and political change happen in people’s lives. Eschewing easy answers or simple solutions, Hahrie Han brilliantly illuminates an uncertain yet hope-filled path towards collective enactment of racial justice in the United States.

    Jamila Michener, director of the Center for Racial Justice and Equitable Futures, Cornell University

    Undivided feels like it is written by someone who understands and, dare I say, loves the church. And because of that, the book catches the church doing right, and praises it, but also challenges it to do better.

    Dave Ferguson, author of B.L.E.S.S.: 5 Everyday Ways To Love Your Neighbor & Change The World

    Praise for Prisms of the People

    Prisms of the People provides more than a hint about how to build and sustain powerful community organizations, an approach firmly rooted in principles of inclusion and engagement rather than boilerplate routines or recipes. The difficult approach makes all kinds of sense: saving democracy takes democratic organizing.

    Social Forces

    Prisms of the People provides answers to a fundamental question of our time: how can we rewire American democracy from the bottom up so that it includes all voices equally? Forging impulses of Tocqueville and Alinsky into a twenty-first-century recipe for participatory activism, the authors show how disenfranchised people across America built organizations that were vital democratic spaces in which they transformed each other into more capable members and leaders.

    Archon Fung, Harvard University

    Praise for How Organizations Develop Activists

    For all the scholarship on social movements and civic associations, surprisingly little research has focused on the issue of organizational effectiveness. Han's book should go a long way toward filling this gap. Using a mix of comparative case analysis and field experiments, the author offers an empirically rich, analytically compelling account of why some associations succeed in mobilizing effective collective action, while so many others fail—often spectacularly—to do so. This book deserves the widest possible audience in political science, sociology and, most importantly, among those who aspire to successful grass roots activism.

    Doug McAdam, author of Freedom Summer

    Praise for Groundbreakers: How Obama’s 2.2 Million Volunteers Transformed Campaigning In America

    Amid all the hype about 'big data' and analytics in Obama's presidential campaigns, one key story hasn't been told in full: how the Obama team built a sprawling and vibrant field organization almost entirely out of volunteer labor. Han and McKenna recount the successes and struggles of this effort, drawing on extensive and illuminating interviews with everyone from senior staff to many of those volunteers. Their account shows how a winning campaign depends as much on old-fashioned shoe leather as on statistical models and multi-million dollar advertising sprees. This is a book that both scholars and practitioners of campaigns should read.

    John Sides, author of The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election

    Groundbreakers is thus an excellent introduction to the practice of organizing, which is an extremely underappreciated facet of American politics...If we are ever going to have a more active and representative political culture, political actors and ordinary citizens alike will have to start taking some cues from Groundbreakers.

    Boston Review
  • Books by Hahrie Han

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