About CERL

The Civic Education Research Lab (CERL) conducts evidence-based research on education in civics, social studies, American government, and politics. CERL has produced extensive studies of civic education at the K-12 level, including:

  1. Research on the effectiveness of teacher education and professional development programs on teachers’ subject-area knowledge, pedagogy, and self-efficacy.
  2. Students’ acquisition of civic knowledge, dispositions, and skills as a result of taking a civics class or participating in a civics program.

In addition, CERL is dedicated to exploring the evolution of new media and its consequences for democratic politics, especially citizen engagement. As the requirements of responsible and effective citizenship in the 21st century have become increasingly complex, CERL examines the role of the civic education in preparing young people to navigate the digital age political world. CERL hosts an online repository of resources and information for scholars, educators, and policy makers.

CERL is located in the Graduate School of Arts & Science at Georgetown University.

Research Team

Dr. Diana Owen

Dr. Diana Owen, Director and Principal Investigator of CERL, is Professor of Political Science in the Communication, Culture & Technology program at Georgetown University. She embraces an interdisciplinary approach to research that is grounded in political science, education research, and communication studies. Her current academic research focuses on how civic education prepares young people for citizenship in the digital age. She also studies the evolution of new political media and its consequences for the public and the polity. Dr. Owen has published widely in the fields of political socialization and civic education, media and politics, political engagement, and elections and voting behavior. She is the author of Media Messages in American Presidential ElectionsNew Media and American Politics (with Richard Davis), and American Government and Politics in the Information Age (with David Paletz and Timothy Cook). She is the co-editor of The Internet and Politics: Citizen, Voters, and ActivistsMaking a Difference: The Internet and Elections in Comparative Perspective, and Internet Election Campaigns in the United States, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.

Dr. Owen is the principal investigator for research on major projects funded by the U.S. Department of Education in communication with the Center for Civic Education, including the James Madison Legacy Project, a nationwide civics program serving teachers and high-need students, the Presidential and Congressional Academies, and the Project Citizen Research Project. She was an American Political Science Association Congressional Media Fellow. She received the Daniel Roselle Award for outstanding research and contributions to the field of education from the Middle States Council for the Social Studies. Her research has been recognized by the American Political Science Association’s Political Education Section.

Kathryn Hartzell

Kathryn Hartzell is a research specialist with CERL at Georgetown University. A graduate of Georgetown’s Communication, Culture, and Technology master’s program, Kathryn served as the managing editor for gnovis Journal ⁠— an interdisciplinary peer-reviewed academic journal ⁠— and as a teaching assistant for Gateway to Film and Media Studies. Her graduate thesis, “Melodramatic and Formulaic: The Global Appeal of Korean Television Dramas,” explored how hybridization of narrative and cinematic tropes impacts transnational media flows.

Prior to Georgetown, Kathryn worked as an Senior Associate at PwC and as a Program Associate at the foreign policy think-tank The Center for the National Interest. She graduated from George Washington University with a B.A. in International Affairs.

Bradlee Sutherland

Bradlee Sutherland is a research associate with CERL and an M.A. candidate in the Communication, Culture & Technology program at Georgetown University. Bradlee’s research focus is on understanding how technology extends our capabilities and its implications on learning/memory, performance, and social interactions. Prior to Georgetown, Bradlee served as a contract researcher, contributing insights from roles at the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD). He also held an internship with the American Institutes for Research where he worked with NAEP data to understand the digital divide among students in grades 4, 8, and 12 by race/ethnicity. 

Jonathan A. Hanna

Jonathan A. Hanna (Ph.D., American History, Claremont Graduate University) is a research associate with CERL and an M.A. candidate in the Engaged and Public Humanities program at Georgetown University. At Georgetown, his work focuses on the intersection of the humanities, civic education, and public policy. More broadly, his principal areas of research include early national American political and intellectual history, the history of the American South, and early modern/modern European political thought and American political thought.

Molly May

Molly May is an undergraduate research assistant with CERL and a current Junior at Georgetown University’s College of Arts and Sciences. Molly is pursuing a B.A. in Sociology with minors in Statistics and Education, Inquiry and Justice. Molly has an extensive background in educational research and is conducting her senior thesis on a state-wide analysis of civic education requirements and youth voter turnout rates. On campus, Molly is involved with the Center for Social Justice and serves as the Director of Operations for GU Votes.

Arjun Chawla

Arjun Chawla is a research associate with CERL. He is pursuing an M.A. in Communication, Culture & Technology from Georgetown University. His research focuses on political science and technology policy. Prior to Georgetown University he spent six years at Oracle in the Software-as-a-Service (customer experience SaaS applications) space in Burlington, MA and Santa Monica, CA.

Charlotte K. Peña

Charlotte K. Peña is a sponsored university associate with CERL and a graduate of Georgetown’s Communication, Culture & Technology master’s program. A strategic communications professional, Charlotte has diverse work experience in education, real estate development and construction, and information technology. She earned a B.A. in English from the University of Virginia.

Charlotte is also a passionate advocate for colon cancer screening. She founded a colon cancer awareness foundation that raised over half a million dollars to further research and awareness. Charlotte started and directed the first Scope It Out ® 5K race in March 2004, which grew to include more than 2,900 participants in four years. This annual race continues to take place in Washington, DC.

Grant Lattanzi

Grant Lattanzi is a research associate with CERL and a graduate of Georgetown’s Communication, Culture & Technology master’s program. With a background in sociology and theatre, Grant’s research interests relate to stories and storytelling, especially as they relate to selfhood and technologically-mediated interaction.

Prior to attending Georgetown, Grant graduated with honors from Texas Christian University with a BFA in acting and a minor in sociology. To read more about his experience and current progress, visit grantlattanzi.com

Sebastian Sawhney

Sebastian Sawhney is majoring in Government and minoring in Journalism at Georgetown University’s College of Arts and Sciences. Sebastian’s primary interest is in political communications and marketing. Sebastian worked for Congressman Ritchie Torre’s press office and the political communications firm Bully Pulpit Interactive.

Morale Associates

Bella & Gio
Ding Ding
Aristotle & Humphrey
Autumn & Lala