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American Political Science Association Institute for Civically Engaged Research (ICER)

Logo of the American Political Science Association


Scholars in many disciplines are grappling with how to produce rigorous scholarship that addresses significant social challenges in collaboration with communities, organizations, and agencies. They strive to learn from those working outside of academia, to benefit from the insights of all kinds of groups and institutions, and to give back to communities rather than extract value from them. Although political scientists offer models of excellence in civically engaged research, relevant methods and strategies are not yet widely taught in the discipline’s graduate programs or sufficiently valued in the profession as a whole.

In 2019, in an effort to address this need, the APSA Presidential Task Force on New Partnerships launched the now-annual APSA Institute for Civically Engaged Research (ICER). ICER is intended for advanced graduate students in political science and political scientists at any stage of their careers who wish to shift to using civically engaged research. (It is not meant for scholars who are already experienced in that approach.)

Note: Due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, the in-person ICER has been canceled.

Content of the Institute

Topics covered will include:

  • Expertise: what do political scientists contribute? What are the limitations of scholarly expertise? What expertise do those outside of academia have?
  • The ethics of collaboration: sharing of credit, funds and overhead, navigating IRB, dealing with disagreements.
  • Communicating results: to partners, relevant communities, the press, and directly to the broader public.
  • How to common social science values and norms
  • Career considerations: publication and credit, tenure and promotion, funding your research.
  • Mapping the different and varied ways that political scientists engage through research and beyond.

We will explore these issues by discussing relevant readings, by analyzing specific examples of civically engaged research from political science and cognate disciplines, and by considering the research plans and ideas of institute participants.


Before its cancellation, speakers and visitors for the 2020 ICER were set to include:

  • Anjuli Fahlburg (Tufts University)
  • Michelle Fine (CUNY)
  • Samantha Majic (John Jay College/CUNY)
  • Jamila Michener (Cornell University)
  • Pearl Robinson (Tufts University)
  • Ethel Tungohan (York University).

The Institute Directors are:

  • Amy Cabrera Rasmussen (California State University Long Beach)
  • Peter Levine (Tufts University)
  • Valeria Sinclair Chapman (Purdue University)

If you have further questions about the institute, please contact APSA’s Centennial Center at


Approximately 20 participants meet each day for intensive discussions and workshops. Thanks to support from the Ivywood Foundation, participation in the Institute for Civically Engaged Research is free, and scholarships are available to defray costs of travel, food, and housing on the Tufts campus. Applicants are expected to seek financial support from their home institution, but admission to the Institute for Civically Engaged Research will not be affected by financial need.

ICER participants are invited to attend the Frontiers of Democracy conference immediately following the institute. Frontiers offers the opportunity to engage directly with over 120 activists, policymakers, and engaged scholars from across multiple disciplines, to present one’s work to and learn from potential partners about their interests and best practices for collaboration. ICER participants will have the Frontiers’ conference fee waived and be provided lodging assistance.