Suzanne Mettler is the John L. Senior Professor of American Institutions in the Department of Government at Cornell University. Her interests include public policy, American political development, political behavior and civic engagement, and inequality.
During her year at Radcliffe, Mettler is working on a book that examines crises of democracy throughout American history, from the 1790s through Watergate, and what can be learned from them to illuminate the state of democracy today. Scholars who have studied democratic deterioration abroad find that four conditions have proven detrimental: political polarization, racism and nativism, economic inequality, and executive aggrandizement. The convergence of these factors in the United States today presents a serious threat, but the past also indicates the capacity of the political system for revitalization.
Mettler is the author of five books, most recently The Government-Citizen Disconnect (Russell Sage Foundation, 2018); Degrees of Inequality: How The Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream (Basic Books, 2014); and The Submerged State: How Invisible Government Policies Undermine American Democracy (University of Chicago Press, 2011). Her earlier books, Soldiers to Citizens: The G.I. Bill and the Making of the Greatest Generation (Oxford University Press, 2005) and Dividing Citizens: Gender and Federalism In New Deal Public Policy (Cornell University Press, 1998), each won two awards from the American Political Science Association. Mettler serves on the steering committee of the Scholars Strategy Network. She earned her PhD in government from Cornell and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2017.