A Call for Civic Proposals

Tisch College, where I work, will host it’s annual Frontiers of Democracy Conference in Boston, MA on July 16-18, 2014.

Much of “Frontiers” consists of invited sessions planned by Matt Leighninger (Deliberative Democracy Consortium), Peter Levine (Tisch College), Karol Soltan (University of Maryland/Summer Institute of Civic Studies), and Nancy Thomas (CIRCLE/The Democracy Imperative). In addition, alumni of the Summer Institute of Civic Studies (that’s me!) are planning sessions and issuing a call for proposals.

To submit a proposal, share a 300 word abstract by March 31, 2014.

We’re intentionally keeping the call open – submit an idea you’ve been wrestling with or a topic you’ve been exploring. We can help match you with others interested in convergent topics as we put together, interactive sessions with plenty of time for conversation, moderated discussions, workshops, readings, planning sessions, or other types of events.

Frontiers of Democracy is not a typical academic conference, and many participants are practitioners. Therefore, interactive working sessions of various kinds are strongly preferred.

As the website elaborates:

Below is a list of potential topics, but we welcome proposals that fit broadly and creatively within the key theme of the conference, Who’s on the bus and where is it going? The State of the Civic Field. Both teams and individual scholars and practitioners may apply. Additionally, we may connect you with other presenters based on interest area.


  • Citizens and Citizenship – What sort of citizens do we want? What knowledge, actions, and beliefs are important for strong citizens? What actions have citizens taken to actively engage in democratic practices? What institutional structures promote meaningful and engaged citizens? What knowledge, skills, and attitudes could transfer to global citizenship? Which may not? How does in-group and out-group status both define and limit citizenship?

  • Scale – How can strong/successful civic practices be scaled up and out? Is this a useful focus for civic work?

  • Civic Studies – What is the current state of the debate in the field? What controversies have emerged? Where is more research needed?

  • Political Reform – What changes in laws and policies are needed to strengthen active citizenship? What should we do to achieve those changes?

  • Democratic Practices – Sessions on particular practices or methods, which may involve – for example – community organizing, media production, deliberation, reflection, or service.

  • Political Learning – How can we begin to address civic education in an era of education spending reduction, the Common Core, No Child Left Behind, and Race to the Top? What are the challenges and opportunities for higher education?

  • Capitalism and Inequality – Is civic renewal compatible with capitalism? Is it hamstrung by inequality?


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