You have the power to shape our world and contribute to the collective good. We’ll prepare you with the knowledge, skills, responsibilities and habits of civic engagement in democracy to effect the changes you want to see.

Democracy is not a spectator sport! Being an engaged citizen means you’re participating in the process of self-governance in your community and country. Regardless of whether you’re a U.S. citizen, we urge all students to be actively involved in public life and seek to build a “more perfect union” and a democracy that works better for everyone in it.     

Being an engaged citizen starts with participating in elections — and voting in every election if you’re eligible. At the Gephardt Institute, we challenge you to go beyond voting by building your “toolbox” of civic engagement strategies and skills, participating in civic dialogue, and engaging in the public policy process. The Gephardt Institute is non-partisan. You can bring your “why” or clarify it through our programs, and we’ll teach you the “how.”

Whether you’re still forming your views on civic issues or you know where you stand, the Gephardt Institute is a place where you can explore your vision for a better world, meet others who share your vision, and expand your perspective by meeting and working with people who see things differently. And whether you know how you want to engage or you just want to learn more and find a way to make a difference, we welcome you.   


WashU Votes

Get all the information you need to cast your vote in every election, whether you’re voting in Missouri or your home state. 

WashU Votes Student Committees

Bring your passion for democracy to WashU Votes and Grad/Professional Students Vote, our boots-on-the-ground campus voter engagement teams.

Atkin Residency in the Art of Democracy

Apply for a year-long artistic residency exploring the intersections of art and democracy.

Applied Civic Courses

Build your civic skills through experiential courses on philanthropy, running for public office and influencing public policy.

American Democracy Lab Podcast

Listen to experts from different fields talk about important aspects of U.S. democracy and explore where differing perspectives may converge. 

Diplomat Dr. Richard Haass speaks with students after an Engage Democracy 2024 event.

Engage Democracy 2024

Get excited to make your impact on our democracy and join one of our election events this year, or share your passion for voter engagement and propose your own event.

Civic Café

Share a meal, dialogue, and learning with community and campus experts on key civic issues and skills — join us weekly.

Civic Action Week

Tap into a range of civic learning and engagement opportunities through this weeklong annual initiative that can get you started or help you progress on your civic journey.

This Civic Moment Podcast

Find out what inspires regional civic and community leaders to engage this civic moment and explore what is next for our civic future in the St. Louis region 

Engage Democracy Accolades

Voter Friendly Campus

In 2017-2018, 2019-2020, 2021-2022, and 2023-2024, WashU was nationally recognized as a Voter Friendly Campus. Following a competitive application process, a select group of universities received the designation, which recognizes campuses doing excellent work to empower their students to participate in the democratic process. The Voter Friendly Campus initiative is led by Campus Vote Project and NASPA Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. Learn more.

ALL IN Highly Established Action Plan Seal

WashU was awarded a Highly Established Action Plan Seal in 2024 and 2022. This seal is awarded to campuses that have worked to increase nonpartisan democratic engagement and graduate engaged voters by building a strong nonpartisan action plan.

The ALL IN Challenge is a nonpartisan initiative that supports campuses as they encourage students to be informed voters and citizens. Learn more

ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge – Gold Seal

WashU received the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge’s Gold Seal for Excellence in Student Voter Engagement. The Gold Seal recognizes colleges and universities with a student voting rate between 40% and 49% during the 2018 midterm elections.

The ALL IN Challenge is a nonpartisan initiative that supports campuses as they encourage students to be informed voters and citizens. Learn more

Engage Democracy In The News

A WashU student completes their ballot in the WashU Field House — WashU’s on-campus polling place — to vote in the 2022 Midterm Elections on Nov. 8, 2022.