William A. Galston, currently the Saul Stern Professor at the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, has been appointed a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. The announcement was made by Strobe Talbott, president of Brookings, and Pietro Nivola, vice president and director of the Brookings Governance Studies program.
“We are very pleased that Bill Galston has agreed to join Brookings on January 1st,” Nivola said. “He is a world-class political theorist who will contribute enormous intellectual firepower to our program.”
Dr. Galston will be working on several high-profile projects pertaining to core questions of American public philosophy. Among these are how to ensure equity between generations in an aging society, and how to advance policies that are in the nation’s long-term interest in a political environment biased toward short-term gains. He also will be a leading contributor to a wide-ranging exploration of the causes, consequences, and possible correction of polarized politics, a new initiative at Brookings.
“Unlike other political scientists,” Galston noted, “my recent work has led me to conclude that political polarization has increased sharply over the past forty years. This phenomenon represents, not so much a shifting pattern of convictions in the population as a whole, but rather a changing distribution of those convictions between the political parties and among states and regions. I’m very pleased to be joining the Brookings Institution to focus on this crucial topic.”
The mission of the Governance Studies program at Brookings is to explore the formal and informal political institutions of the United States and other democratic regimes to assess how they govern, how their practices compare, and how citizens and public servants can advance sound governance. The new project on partisan polarization will cover every major institution involved in the U.S. political process, including the electoral system, the media, the faith community, the courts and Congress.
After serving as a sergeant in the United States Marine Corps and then receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1973, Galston taught for nearly a decade in the Department of Government at the University of Texas. In the 1990s, he served as deputy assistant for domestic policy to President Clinton, and later as executive director for the National Commission on Civic Renewal. Presently, he directs the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, an organization he founded with support from the Pew Charitable Trusts. He has long been a senior advisor to the Democratic Leadership Council, and since 1995, has directed the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy at the University of Maryland. He is the author of six books and nearly one hundred articles on questions of political and moral philosophy, American politics and public policy. His most recent book is Public Matters: Politics, Policy, and Religion in the 21st Century (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005). Galston is also a co-author of Democracy at Risk: How Political Choices Undermine Citizen Participation and What We Can Do About It, to be published in September by the Brookings Press.