Max Henning

Technical Specialist I, Social and Behavioral Science

Max Henning is a Technical Specialist in Social and Behavioral Sciences at Democracy International (DI). In this role, Mr. Henning supports the integration of neuroscience and social and behavioral science into DI’s democracy, human rights, and governance (DRG) programs. His focus is on developing next-generation approaches to cultivating pro-democratic attitudes, norms, and behaviors, by engaging local values, identities, and motivations for participatory and accountable governance.

Mr. Henning brings a deep and specialized knowledge of human neurobiology and evolutionary psychology to DI’s work. He spent five years as a researcher working with renowned neuroscientist Dr. Antonio Damasio at the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California (USC), supporting Dr. Damasio’s work on the molecular and evolutionary foundations of feeling and emotion, prosocial motivation and behavior, and the nature of consciousness. His contributions were acknowledged in Dr. Damasio’s books The Strange Order of Things: Life, Feeling, and the Making of Cultures (2017); and Feeling and Knowing: Making Minds Conscious (2021). However, Mr. Henning soon recognized the critical need for this research to be incorporated into democracy assistance work and began the transition from academia to the world of practice. Before leaving academia, Mr. Henning co-designed a study that effectively shifted politicized attitudes and behaviors around mask-wearing using moral reframing (Kaplan et al, 2023).

Mr. Henning is finishing a Master of Arts in Democracy and Governance from Georgetown University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Neuroscience from the University of Southern California.

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