In the words of its founder, Herbert Hoover, the Hoover Institution exists in large part to “support the Constitution of the United States, its Bill of Rights and its method of representative government. . .  With these purposes as its goal, the Institution itself must constantly and dynamically point the road to peace, to personal freedom, and to the safeguards of the American system.” In renewed pursuit of this mission, the Hoover Institution will establish its first-ever permanent center devoted to revitalizing American institutions and to addressing current challenges they are facing.

From its founding, America has developed an array of institutions to preserve and advance our nation’s liberty and prosperity. Yet today, many citizens have lost confidence in those institutions, challenging their legitimacy and compromising their missions. In an objective, non-partisan spirit, the Center for Revitalizing American Institutions (RAI) will draw on the Hoover Institution’s scholarship, government experience, and convening power to study the reasons behind the crisis in trust facing American institutions, analyze how they are operating in practice, and consider policy recommendations to rebuild trust and increase their effectiveness.

Researching the Causes of the Crisis

RAI scholars will conduct analysis to understand the trajectory of America’s institutions, documenting both their successes and failures, to inform recommendations for fortifying them. On what bases were American institutions established and how have they developed over time? What is causing them to lose legitimacy?

Generating Recommendations for Increasing the Effectiveness of American Institutions

RAI scholars will examine American institutions in contemporary contexts and evaluate how they measure up to today’s challenges. Societal changes, emerging technologies, and severe economic downturns have long tested our institutions and are testing them again. As part of its scholarly efforts, RAI will offer policy recommendations on how institutions can meet new challenges, both by evaluating existing reform proposals and generating new ones.

Educating about the Importance of American Institutions

The seeds of division and dysfunction undermining American society have coincided with a decline in civics education. To reinvigorate American democracy, civics needs to be a central part of our educational system. RAI will examine the K12 and postsecondary US education systems as critical venues of citizenship formation, in addition to recognizing the importance of lifelong educational opportunities. This effort will encompass developing curricular and pedagogical materials to advance civics education.

The Center for the Revitalization of American Institutions in multiple ways affirms the purpose for which Herbert Hoover created the Hoover Institution. Through fact-based scholarship, policy analysis, and dissemination of findings, RAI will help the nation meet the current existential challenges to our institutions. By giving definition to the problem and approaching it holistically, RAI will be a resource for improving the current situation and encouraging an informed and active citizenry.

For questions or additional information on the Center for Revitalizing American Institutions, please contact

The opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hoover Institution or Stanford University.

© 2024 by the Board of Trustees of Leland Stanford Junior University.

Brandice Canes-Wrone

Brandice Canes-Wrone

Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow | Director of the Center for Revitalizing American Institutions

Brandice Canes-Wrone is the Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and a professor in the Political Science department at Stanford. Her current research focuses on representation and accountability, including projects on elections, campaign finance, and populism. She also writes on the effects of political phenomena on economic outcomes.

Tom Schnaubelt

Tom Schnaubelt

Assistant Director of the Center for Revitalizing American Institutions

Thomas Schnaubelt is the Assistant Director of the Center for Revitalizing American Institutions at the Hoover Institution. Prior to his role at the Hoover Institution, Schnaubelt served as a Lecturer and Senior Advisor on Civic Education at the Deliberative Democracy Lab, within the Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. Schnaubelt came to Stanford in 2009 and has served as the Associate Vice Provost for Education, the Executive Director of the Haas Center for Public Service, and a Resident Fellow in Branner Hall, where he and his wife oversaw the development and implementation of a living-learning community focused on public service and civic engagement. In 2015, Schnaubelt coordinated the launch of Cardinal Service, a university wide effort to elevate and expand public service as a distinctive feature of the Stanford experience, and he has launched and led several national initiatives focused on democratic engagement and social change education. Schnaubelt received a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of Mississippi, a Master of Arts in Education from the University of Michigan, and Bachelor of Science in Physics from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

overlay image