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Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life

Tisch College Courses

Each year, Tisch College creates, cosponsors, or otherwise supports academic courses where students acquire the knowledge, skills, and values needed to engage in productive civic lives. Many of these courses contribute towards the new Civic Studies (CVS) major here at Tufts. You can find a full list of all current Civic Studies courses through the link on the sidebar. Below, we highlight several foundational courses, including several classes that are exclusive to Tisch College student programs, along with other academic offerings that we are pleased to support.

Spring 2019

CVS 20-01PHIL 20-01PS 20-01

Introduction to Civic Studies

Instructor: Peter Levine, Tisch College Associate Dean for Research
Co-Instructor: Erin Kelly, Professor & Chair of the Philosophy Department

Civic Studies is an interdisciplinary field of study that focuses on critical reflection, ethical thinking, and action for social change. People who think and act together to improve society must address problems of collective action (how to get members to work together) and deliberation (how to reason together about contested values). They must understand how power is organized and how it operates within and between societies. They must grapple with social conflict, violence, and other obstacles to peaceful cooperation. When tensions arise within a group, people face questions of justice and fairness, and they must confront questions about appropriate relationships to outsiders of all types. This introductory course explores ethical, political, and theological frameworks for understanding how people can and should organize themselves to improve societies. Readings are drawn from philosophy and political theory, economics, the history of social movements, and other disciplines. This course provides theoretical grounding for Civic Studies majors and for other students interested in social change.

CVS 150-01

Civic Studies Special Topics: The President has Tweeted - Official Government Communications in the Age of Trump

Instructor: Nanda Chitre, Tisch College Visiting Instructor, Former Principal Deputy Director for the Office of Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Justice

President Trump’s Administration is certainly not the first administration to go outside of the mainstream media for direct message communication with the American people. However, no president has gone so far as to undermine press credibility and refer to the press as the “enemy of the people.” The current White House consistently uses social media to bypass established precedent and norms relating to the White House press corps. This course will explore how public policy is shaped by government press and communications operations and will delve into the impact specific communications processes and platforms have on an administration’s message. The course will examine the history behind official briefings and the mechanics of government press operations in an environment where a president believes he can best speak for himself and his administration. The course will also discuss what constitutes journalistic integrity in an ever-changing, fragmented media environment that now includes citizen journalists and social media. How do news organizations continue to provide serious, informative reporting to the American people in an era where the sitting president in real-time labels reports as ‘fake news’? How do voters consume this stream of information and make informed voting decisions? Students will finish this course with a complete and contextual understanding of how their government should be communicating and the questions they should be

UEP 0261-01

Community Development, Planning, and Politics

Instructor: Lorlene Hoyt, Research Professor, Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning

Collaborative seminar exploring community development concepts and strategies in U.S. and other national contexts. Examines the history, structure and function of urban and virtual communities, with attention to the politics of space, civic participation and socio-economic inequality. Introduction to methods of inquiry including personal interviews, case study analysis and digital storytelling. Guest speakers provide insights from practice and professional networking opportunities. Seminar participants encouraged to build solidarity, become a community.

This is a graduate level course, but open to undergraduates with instructor's permission
PS 108-01

Public Opinion and U.S. Democracy

Instructor: Brian Schaffner, Professor, Department of Political Science

This course addresses the impact of public opinion in the United States on the political process and vice versa. Emphasis is on the linkage between U.S. citizens and the democratic process. Examines what public opinion is and debates about how it can be measured. Topics include the nature of attitude formation, stability and change; the role of the media in opinion-formation; the link between attitudes and behavior; group differences in opinions; how elites influence mass opinions; political inequality; polarization; and the relationship between public opinion and policy outcomes

This course contributes to the Civic Studies major
PS 118-02

Topics in American Politics: Massachusetts State Government - Learning While Doing

Instructor: Ben Downing, Former Massachusetts State Senator

Students will be placed in one of a dozen State House offices—for a legislator, committee, in the governor’s office, or for an executive branch agency—to serve in a policy-focused internship. These experiences will be supplemented with a class built around discussion of shared experiences, as well as on the interplay between policy and politics. The primary goal is for 3 students to develop real world skills and a deeper understanding of how politics and policy intersect to create law, regulatory programs, and social change.

This course contributes to the Civic Studies major
PS 118-03

Topics in American Politics: Organizing for Social Change

Instructor: Danny LeBlanc, CEO, Somerville Community Corporation
Co-Instructor: Kenneth Galdston, Director, InterValley Project

This course will trace community organizing to some of its early roots in the United States, as well as drawing connections between community organizing and other movements, including the labor, civil rights, and environmental movements. Presentations and discussions with other Boston area community organizers will be included as will be opportunities to visit with and observe local community-based organizations.

This course contributes to the Civic Studies major
AMER 141-01ELS 141-01

Innovative Social Enterprises

Instructor: Julianne Zimmerman, Lecturer, Gordon Institute

Innovative Social Enterprises is structured to provide students a highly interactive exploration of core skills vital to social entrepreneurs.  We start with awareness (self, context, relationships) and move quickly to practicing requisite disciplines (asking questions; testing and reframing assumptions; forming teams and other alliances; identifying opportunities, risks, and resources; giving and critiquing pitches; making go/no-go decisions).  We will practice an iterative rhythm of weekly information gathering, sensing, assessment, and reframing, with emphasis on creating compelling value for multiple stakeholders.  Students will engage in individual reflection and pitching as well as three team pitch-offs.

This course contributes to the Civic Studies major
EIB B230

Managing NGO and Social Enterprises

Instructor: Alnoor Ibrahim, Professor, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

This course examines how to create, develop and scale high-performing social sector organizations — be they for-profit, nonprofit, or hybrid organizations. In this course, student will learn how to: a) design an organization’s mission, theory of change, and strategy in order to deliver social results; b) develop performance management systems useful for internal learning, while managing complex demands for accountability from diverse stakeholders; c) understand how to scale impact through multiple strategies including growth, collaboration, and policy influence; and, d) examine capital markets and the challenges of obtaining resources.  Taken together, students will acquire the understanding, skills and knowledge necessary to lead and sustain high performance in enterprises dedicated to addressing some of the most challenging problems facing the world today.

This is a graduate level course with the Fletcher School
NUTR 234

Basics of U.S. Public Policy

Instructor: Jerold R. Mande, Tisch College Senior Fellow and Professor of the Practice at the Friedman School

This course introduces students to the U.S. public policymaking process from our Constitution, through the three branches of government, to the press, with emphasis on food and nutrition policies and programs. Much of the course focuses on the nuts and bolts of policymaking and will utilize examples from current policy debates. Case studies, developed for the diverse interests of Friedman School students, are used to underscore policy lessons, facilitate small group discussion, and introduce students to several policy initiatives (e.g., food labeling) with which all Friedman students need to be familiar. Priority enrollment for MS/DI students. NOTE: For students in degree programs with NUTR 0203: Fundamentals of Nutrition Policy & Programming: How Science & Practice Interact as a course requirement, NUTR 0234 cannot serve as a substitute for the required course.

This is a graduate level course with the Friedman School. It is potentially open to undergraduate students with instructor consent.

Fall 2018

CVS 20-01PHIL 20-01PS 20-01

Introduction to Civic Studies

Instructor: Peter Levine, Tisch College Associate Dean for Research
Co-Instructor: Erin Kelly, Professor & Chair of the Philosophy Department

Civic Studies is an interdisciplinary field of study that focuses on critical reflection, ethical thinking, and action for social change. People who think and act together to improve society must address problems of collective action (how to get members to work together) and deliberation (how to reason together about contested values). They must understand how power is organized and how it operates within and between societies. They must grapple with social conflict, violence, and other obstacles to peaceful cooperation. When tensions arise within a group, people face questions of justice and fairness, and they must confront questions about appropriate relationships to outsiders of all types. This introductory course explores ethical, political, and theological frameworks for understanding how people can and should organize themselves to improve societies. Readings are drawn from philosophy and political theory, economics, the history of social movements, and other disciplines. This course provides theoretical grounding for Civic Studies majors and for other students interested in social change.

TCS 193-01PS 118-01

Topics in American Politics: Inside Congress & The 2018 Midterm Elections

Instructor: Steve Israel, Former U.S. Representative (D-NY3)

The 2018 congressional midterm elections will be one of the important and closely watched in history. Former Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), who chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from 2011-2016, will dissect and track the elections in real-time, covering the essentials of polling, media, fundraising, super PACs and campaign organization. Behind-the-scenes campaign experts will participate in classroom discussions.

TCS 193-02PS 188-01

Special Topics in International Relations: The Politics of Self-Determination and Secession

Instructor: Vartan Oskanian, Former Foreign Minister of Armenia (1998-2008), Founder of the Civilitas Foundation

The course will study and analyze several currently active self-determination movements through the dual lenses of international law on self-determination and global politics. It will assess whether these movements can rely on international law to support their independence claim—or whether it is all politics. Students will also become acquainted with conflict resolution, mediation, and negotiation methods and skills, as well as international court proceedings through in-class negotiations, simulations and mock court litigations.

TCS 193-03CIS 150-01

Civic Engagement and Contemporary Art

Instructor: Harsha Menon, Former Robyn Gittleman Teaching Fellow at the Experimental College

How can aesthetics be employed to instigate effective civic involvement?  What are the ethics involved that implicate both the artist and viewer?  This course, taught in seminar format, will interrogate the intersection of civic engagement and contemporary art through textual analysis, close involvement with a Tisch College Partner, and exhibition practice.  There will also be a practical component of training in fine art disciplines such as photography, film, and collage (as determined by the students) culminating in a “pop-up” exhibition space on the Medford Campus that relates to Jacques Rancière’s critique of representational mediation.  No previous studio art experience required.

Note: This course counts as an arts distribution credit. 

TCS 193-04CIS 150-02

Media and Moral Responsibility: Issues of Media Ethics in Practice and Principles

Instructor: Anthony Rudel, Station Manager at WGBH's WCRB, Author of Tales from the Opera and Hello Everybody! The Dawn of American Radio.

Like it or not, we live in an era where the media’s role is often questioned by those who may claim it’s all fake anyway. But that’s not the central issue that we should question. Is it ethical for a journalist who has a vested interest in a subject to report on that subject? Should a music director of a radio station not play a particular artist because they disagree with a political stance taken by that artist? Should movie channels ban the work of any actor accused of sexual misconduct? Should social media be responsible for unsocial behavior? Is reality TV really reality? And, are there really any rules when it comes to media and ethical behavior? The central theme of the Media Ethics seminar is an exploration of the many kinds of decisions, or more accurately, choices media professionals face every day, and perhaps of greatest significance, the slippery slope that diminishing standards and the absence of gatekeepers has created. With an appreciation of the historical foundation of mass media to be a national town hall of civic discourse, we will explore the ways that modern media has been challenged by a slippage in ethics. But media is much more than just news, so this course will also explore editorial decisions made by music stations, and other forms of media, to compare how their choices have consequences.

TCS 193-05CSHD 143-02

Developing Leaders Who Make a Difference: Leadership in a Civic Context

Instructor: Diane Ryan, Tisch College Associate Dean for Programs & Administration

Developing Leaders Who Make a Difference integrates concepts from adult development and learning, leader(ship) development, and organizational behavior and applies them to building capacity for social change. This course is organized in three sequential segments: Leading Self, Leading Others and Leading Organizations. At the end of this course, students will be able to develop effective strategies to lead individuals, teams and organizations to their fullest potential in service to others.

TCS 193 - 06PS 119-01

U.S. National Elections

Instructor: Eitan Hersh, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

This is an advanced research seminar with two aims: to present and discuss scholarship on several aspects of U.S. national elections and to accommodate research papers on U.S. national elections. The course’s readings offer analyses of U.S. elections by social scientists. There will be ample discussion of the 2018 election underway during the term. The primary goal of the course is to help students compose exemplary, quantitative original research papers, and we will spend time every class meeting developing these papers.

TCS 94-04PJS 50-01

Science and Civic Action

Instructor: Jonathan Garlick, Tisch College Senior Fellow for Civic Science

This course teaches students conceptual approaches and practical skills needed to effectively create change on science-based issues that impact our lives and communities. The course links science issues to our professional, personal, and civic responsibilities and equips students to help others make critical choices on divisive or complex science issues. Future scientists and engineers will acquire skills that build civic capacities, while students from the humanities and social sciences will learn skills indispensable for positive civic action. This course aims to strengthen inclusivity through pluralistic and dialogic approaches to science learning and civic action.

TCS 94-03SOC 94-17

Girls and Girlhood

Instructor: Margaret McGladrey, Postdoctoral Fellow

What is girlhood, and how do social and cultural ideas about it influence the life chances of people who are classified as “girls”? Are we living in an age of “girl power” where stereotypes about girls’ capabilities are fading away, or are girls more vulnerable than ever because of contemporary social problems like the hook-up culture, sexting, sexual assault, suicide, and media sexualization? In this course, you will explore answers to these questions through the lens of gender and age in ways that illuminate girls’ intersectional identities in terms of race, ethnicity, place, ability, nationality, religion, sexuality, and socioeconomic status and illustrate whose stories are foregrounded and whose are forgotten. Topics include educational justice, sex trafficking and unpaid labor, rape culture and gender-based violence, health and embodiment, gender and sexual politics, and media consumption and production. You will gain a strong understanding of current “girls’ empowerment” activism by applying the concepts we learn throughout the course to specific programs to assess their political, social, and civic impact and ethical standards.

TCS 94-05ELS 194-05

Special Topics: Philanthropy, Social Enterprise, and Community

Instructor: Nancy Lippe, Lecturer, Experimental College

Philanthropy plays many roles in our communities, from alleviating crisis situations to encouraging strategic, systemic change. Nonprofit organizations are the intermediaries connecting donors to community needs. Working with a grant from former Tufts Trustee Nathan Gantcher, students have the opportunity to practice philanthropy by serving as a young adult grant-making board to award $25,000 to local nonprofits in the cities of Medford, Somerville, Cambridge and Boston.

TCS 94-01PJS 50-02

Special Topics: Dialogue, Identity & Civic Action

Instructor: Jonathan Garlick , Tisch College Senior Fellow for Civic Science

This course offers students in-depth training in dialogue facilitation to develop skills needed to take civic action for positive social change. Students will facilitate the creation of spaces to communicate openly about contentious or divisive issues and will work towards breaking down destructive communication habits like avoidance, silence, or reactive responses, by enabling participants to feel truly listened to. Students will design conversations and facilitate dialogues that build deep listening and mutual understanding and will be trained to conduct dialogues when there is a need to intervene to support difficult conversations on campus and in their communities.

Program-Specific Courses

The following courses are open only to participants in Tisch College student programs.

EXP-0083-XF

Tisch Scholars Foundation: Civic Identity, Reflection, and Action

Instructor: Grace Talusan, Lecturer, Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning

Through this course, Tisch Scholars will explore the connections between identity and systems of privilege, power, and oppression, and will apply their learning directly to their fieldwork. Students will learn to apply an asset-based approach to community work, and will gain skills in dialogue and deliberation. The coursework will allow students to critically reflect on the service learning work they are engaging with at their partner sites, and share ideas on how to address social issues in the community. Each semester that they participate in the program, Tisch Scholars will work eight hours per week at a community-based placement. Scholars will continue learning about Tufts partner communities and forge meaningful, reciprocal partnerships with community members through service and collaboration.

This course is exclusive to participants in the Tisch Scholars program
EXP-0084-XF

Tisch Scholars Fieldwork Practicum

Instructor: Sara Allred, Scholars Program Administrator, Tisch College

Each semester that they participate in the program, Tisch Scholars work eight hours per week at a community-based placement. Scholars will continue learning about Tufts partner communities and forge meaningful, reciprocal partnerships with community members through service and collaboration.  Scholars will meet several times per semester with their peers in the program to critically reflect on the work and learning they are engaging with at their partner sites, and share ideas on how to address social issues in the community.

This course is exclusive to participants in the Tisch Scholars program
Tufts 1+4 Course

Tufts 1+4 Foundation: Communicating for Change

Instructor: Grace Talusan, Lecturer, Department of English

Students will study and practice approaches to change, both personal and social, through a variety of communication methods. This course is designed to develop writing, close-reading, and critical thinking skills for students on a bridge-year experience. In a blended learning format and through related readings, investigative data collection, guided exploration of social issues, and experiences with service placements and host communities, students will practice reflection, analysis, and effective communication. Students will create a learning community and consider how their bridge-year experience connects to their future academic interests and possible impact on campus life once they return to campus.

This course is exclusive to participants in the Tufts 1+4 Bridge-Year Service Learning Program.

Civic Studies Courses

In addition to the courses highlighted on this page, dozens of courses from a wide range of disciplines count toward the Civic Studies Major.