Photo of Catherine Carver

Catherine R. Carver

Lead, U-M Democracy & Debate

Catherine Carver serves as the programming lead for University of Michigan’s Democracy & Debate, a university-wide educational initiative. This initiative seeks to encourage students, faculty, staff, and the broader U-M community to explore the exchange of ideas, the structures, and the responsibilities necessary for strengthening democratic societies from a local to a global perspective. As lead, Carver is responsible for working with campus and external partners to conceptualize, plan, and execute an array of programming for Democracy & Debate. In that capacity, she heads a core team comprised of faculty, staff, and student representatives from across all sectors of campus, and she facilitates a steering committee of faculty appointees. 

She also co-chairs, with the director of the University of Maryland’s Civic Innovation Center, the planning group for the Big Ten Collaboration: Democracy in the 21st Century. The Big Ten collaboration involves all of the schools in the conference, harnessing the diverse assets of the Big Ten community to develop shared programming around issues and challenges facing democracy in this century for the conference’s students, faculty, staff, and local communities. 
Carver possesses two decades of experience in academia and the private sector. Raised in Washington, D.C., in a government family and trained as an art historian, she has always been fascinated by the intersections of socio-economic factors and structures of politics and space. She uses her interest in unexpected intersections and extensive experience with faculty, students, and practitioners in collaborations with campus and external partners to develop the interdisciplinary programming that furthers understanding of and engagement with the processes of democratic institutions. 
Carver holds an A.B. from Duke University (magna cum laude) and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. After completing her Ph.D., Carver was director of operations for Christian Zapatka Architect, Washington, D.C. Upon returning to Ann Arbor, she taught history of art, architecture, and design at the University of Michigan, College for Creative Studies, and Wayne State University. She served as an academic advisor at the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Sciences, and the Arts. She later served as the education program manager for the University of Michigan’s Alumni Association. Subsequently, in November 2018, she joined the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy as its events & outreach manager, transitioning to her Democracy & Debate role in January 2020. She continues to teach as an Art History lecturer at Wayne State University.
Her awards include a Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome and a Fulbright Scholarship. She regularly presents papers and research at academic conferences, and she currently serves on the programming committee for the Society of Fellows of the American Academy in Rome. 
A mother of three and an active volunteer in the Ann Arbor community, over the years Carver has served on a number of local boards and has spent many wonderful hours by athletic fields, in the ice rink, and in the theatre. And, for peace and solitude, if not thinking about medieval architecture in Rome or curled up with a book, she might be found on a long run in the woods with her mischievous German Shepherd.