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Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life

Frontiers of Democracy Conference

Peter Levine speaks from the podium at Frontiers of Democracy 2018 conference

Frontiers of Democracy is an annual conference hosted by the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University since 2009.

In 2019, the conference will take place from June 20 (evening) until June 22 (midday) at the downtown Boston campus of Tufts University. The inaugural fellowship class of the Lead for America program, participants in the American Political Science Association’s Institute of Civically Engaged Research (ICER), and current and past participants in the Summer Institute of Civic Studies will be part of the conference. Frontiers 2019 is co-sponsored by Cities of Service, Lead for America, and the Deliberative Democracy Consortium.

Proposals are being accepted for individual talks, panels, and other kinds of sessions, such as moderated discussions, workshops, planning meetings, etc. Please submit proposals here by March 31, 2019. Check back often for updates on the conference speakers, schedule, and other details as they are finalized.

Frontiers of Democracy immediately precedes the Summer Institute of Civic Studies, a selective seminar for scholars, practitioners, and advanced graduate students.

Frontiers 2018

The 2018 conference took place on June 21-23 at Tufts University’s downtown Boston campus in Chinatown. Partners for the conference in 2018 included the Bridge Alliance, the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, the National Conference on Citizenship, and the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.

According to Freedom House, democracy has been in retreat worldwide for 12 years. Many people are pushing back, including activists and organizers who are nonviolently struggling, using tactics like strikes, boycotts, and mass demonstrations against entrenched power. Other individuals and groups take different approaches, some seeking a greater degree of neutrality and emphasizing deliberative dialogue, particularly when they work within institutions such as schools, public agencies, and newspapers. This year, Frontiers brought people from these communities of scholarship and practice together to ask how they can learn from and complement each another.

You can review the full Frontiers 2018 agenda here. You can also watch full video of this year's introduction and "short take" speakers below, or click on the links to skip to individual speakers' presentations:

Frontiers 2017

Thanks to everyone who joined us at an exciting, thought-provoking, and timely Frontiers of Democracy 2017, which was focused on multiple frameworks for civic and democratic work developed, respectively, by Caesar McDowell of the Interaction Institute for Social Change and MIT, Archon Fung of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and Tisch College’s Peter Levine. Our short take speakers included Rev. Dr. F. Willis Johnson, the senior minister of Wellspring Church in Ferguson, Missouri; Wendy Willis of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium and the National Policy Consensus Center; and Hardy Merriman, President of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.

In addition, the Journal of Public Deliberation, the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, and The Democracy Imperative held a preconference symposium on “Deliberative Democracy in an Era of Rising Authoritarianism.”

Check out the preconference symposium's agenda and readings and the full Frontiers 2017 agenda. You can watch video of this year's introduction, "short take" speakers, and one of our afternoon plenaries, below.

Sign up for Updates

Fill out this short form for occasional announcements about the Frontiers of Democracy Conference and the Summer Institute of Civic Studies. Please note that completing this form does not mean that you have officially applied to either.