Introducing our Fall 2021 Team

This Fall, the Meanings of Democracy Lab welcomes its first class of Graduate Research Fellows and Undergraduate Research Assistants!

Sociology PhD candidates Amy Lawton and Nabil Tueme join the Lab as Graduate Research Fellows.

Six Undergraduate Research Assistants — Gvantsa Ambokadze (Major: Political Science); ; David de Siqueira Campos McLaughlin (Major: Computer Science); Colin Sullivan (Major: Applied Mathematics and Statistics); Owen Silverman (Major: Philosophy/Human Rights); Rebekah Wesler (Major: Political Science); and Mary Wirpel (Major: Political Science) — comprise our inaugural Research Team.

The team brings a diverse mix of research skills and interests, and will be sharing the results of their work together throughout the semester through the Lab’s website, so stay tuned!

Work with us!

The newly formed Meanings of Democracy Lab, directed by Professor Ruth Braunstein of the Sociology Department, is offering five research assistantships for interested, high-achieving undergraduate students. Research Assistants will work with Dr. Braunstein on research related to the contested moral and cultural foundations of American democratic life, including on ongoing projects on the moral meanings of taxpaying and on battles over American history and identity.

Students’ activities could include collecting and analyzing data and reviewing existing research, as well as disseminating information through social media and podcasts. No specialized research skills are required, but extra consideration will be given to students with the following skills/interests:

  • web data collection/scraping
  • digital storytelling

We will meet virtually on Mondays from 11:00am-12:30pm during Fall 2021.

Students will receive three units of 3000-level independent study credit.

The positions are open to rising sophomores and juniors. Preferred GPA is 3.6 or higher. Students from any campus are welcome to apply.

To apply, please fill out this application:

Meanings of Democracy Lab Launched

We are excited to announce the launch of the Meanings of Democracy Lab, founded and directed by UConn sociologist Dr. Ruth Braunstein. Several big questions animate how Americans engage in civic and political life: Who counts as a “real” American? What is required of a “good” citizen? Is American democracy flourishing or floundering? In today’s deeply polarized America, the answers to these questions depend on who you ask, but the ways that different people answer them matter for us all.

The newly launched Meanings of Democracy Lab engages students and partners in collaborative research on and discussion about the contested moral and cultural foundations of American democratic life. Current projects focus on the moral meanings of taxpaying and on battles over the roles of race and religion in American identity and history.

If you are interested in participating in or collaborating with the Meanings of Democracy Lab, email Dr. Ruth Braunstein at