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Frontiers of Democracy Conference

The 2022 Conference

June 24, 2022 | 9 am - 4:30 pm | In-Person in Boston or Online

This year's Frontiers of Democracy conference has a special format. The main activity will be to deliberate in small groups—at tables or on Zoom—about the issues raised in selected “civic cases.” Learn more about the conference.

Individuals may choose to attend either in-person or remotely. The entire conference will take place between 9 am and 4:30 pm on June 24. The in-person version will be held in Tufts’ downtown Boston campus.

Please purchase a ticket for the event now, choosing an in-person or remote ticket.

If registration for the face-to-face version looks unexpectedly low, or if the pandemic situation worsens, it may be necessary to cancel the in-person version. In that case, in-person tickets will be refunded in full. The status of the face-to-face meeting will be reviewed on May 13.

About the Conference

Frontiers of Democracy is an annual conference hosted by the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University between 2009 and 2019. Due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, the 2020 and 2021 Frontiers of Democracy conferences were canceled.

Typically, the conference takes place at the downtown Boston campus of Tufts University in June. It follows the American Political Science Association’s Institute for Civically Engaged Research and precedes the Summer Institute of Civic Studies, and convenes members of those two programs plus about 100 others: activists and practitioners in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors; scholars, educators, students; and more. The agenda usually includes short plenary talks, concurrent sessions, and interactive activities for the large group. A major objective is to build relationships among people who work in diverse ways at the frontiers of democracy in the United States and around the world.

The 2019 Conference

In 2019, the conference took place from June 20-22 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 were part of the conference. Frontiers 2019 was co-sponsored by Cities of Service, Lead for America, the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, the National Conference on Citizenship, and the Bridge Alliance.

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

Check out the full 2019 Frontiers agenda to learn more about the speakers and panelists who presented at the conference. Watch the conference on YouTube, or click on the links to skip to individual speakers' presentations:

  • Introduction by Peter Levine, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Tisch College and conference organizer
  • Robert Lieberman, Johns Hopkins University & American Political Science Association Institute for Civically Engaged Research
  • Jarvis Hall, North Carolina Central University, on "The Genesis of the Moral Monday Movement in North Carolina"
  • Maya Pace, Lead for America, “Start Where You Live”
  • Jamila Michener, Cornell University, “Health Equity and Democracy”
  • Wendy Willis, Deliberative Democracy Consortium, "What's Creed Got to Do With It? (A Meditation)"
  • Andi Crawford, Director of Empowerment and Citizen Engagement for the City of Lansing, MI, “Love Your Block in #LOVELansing”

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. In 2018, 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

Frontiers 2017

Frontiers of Democracy 2017 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 that year's introduction, "short take" speakers, and one of our afternoon plenaries, on our YouTube channel.

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