The Gephardt Institute launched Engage Democracy, a university-wide initiative that aims to educate the campus community about the processes and civic skills need to participate in a thriving democracy.

Engage Democracy includes four core components: voter engagement, Common Ground Grant funds, a Public Service Fellows program in partnership with the Brown School, and a series of Engage Democracy workshops. Explore opportunities for involvement below, and connect with us to further engage the campus community and increase political participation throughout the year.

Voter Engagement

Voting is a vital form of civic engagement that helps make our communities stronger. Learn about WashU Votes, our student-led volunteer initiative, voter registration, election dates,  ballot issues, and other ways to engage with public issues.

Common Ground Grants

Common Ground Grants are designed to catalyze the campus community in developing strategies to repair, address, and prevent polarization at the university and in the St. Louis community. Opportunities range from $500-$1,500.

Public Service Fellows

A competitive fellowship program that places graduate students from the Brown School in 10-month positions at St. Louis City Hall or city departments where they will directly contribute to the civic efforts in the region while honing their professional skills and grasp of local government.

Workshop Series

We are developing a workshop curriculum to equip students and campus partners with knowledge and skills to effectively engage in the process of democracy, including “civics 101,” media literacy, and citizen tools for communicating with elected officials.

Connect with our Senior Fellow in Public Policy

Tom Irwin, our new Senior Fellow in Public Policy, instructs two political science courses per year: Running for Political Office (fall semester) and Skills That Turn Passion Into Policy (spring semester). He is also available as a trainer, advisor, and mentor to students interested in the role of policy in our communities.

Connect with Tom at

Learn more and register for political science courses here.