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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 Civic Studies (CVS) major for Tufts undergraduates. You can find a full list of all current Civic Studies courses through the link on the sidebar. Below, we highlight several of those courses as well as classes that are exclusively for participants in Tisch College student programs, along with other academic offerings that we are pleased to support.

Fall 2019

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

Introduction to Civic Studies

Instructor: Peter Levine, Tisch College Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
Co-Instructor: (Fall) Brian Schaffner, Newhouse Professor of Civic Studies, (Spring) 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 170-01

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.

CVS 150-01

Special Topics: Media, Civics, and Social Change

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

Since the 2016 election, the ways in which media and civics can intersect have become a central topic in ways that had never been anticipated, and every day we see more examples of the ways in which the relationship between media and civics is being challenged. This course will explore how media—including but not limited to electronic media, advertising, social media, and entertainment—can and have been used to promote social change, the civic responsibility of media organizations in society, the ways in which traditional forms of media might be changing to engage civic needs and the ways in which new media platforms meet, and confront, civic needs and norms.

CVS 150-02PS 118-02

Topics in American Politics: Community Organizing

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
CVS 150-03PJS 50-01

Special Topics: 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.

ELS 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.

CVS 150-06

Special Topics: Hindsight Might Not Be 2020 - The Upheaval of Political Communications in the Era of Trump

Instructor: Philippe Reines, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Strategic Communications

The greatest surprise in American political history began in the fall of 2015. Both political parties, the media, political consultants & pundits—and of course the voters—were sure Donald Trump’s ascendance, nomination, and victory was near-impossible. But why was it a surprise? From the day he announced, signs of his standing and success were obvious every step of the way. In hindsight, the real shock might be how so many missed—or ignored—hints of his victory. Is 2019 already seeing a repeat of these lapses? Will an electorate still unable to fully grasp how Trump was elected miss obvious signs about his chances for re-election? This course will look at the current state of play through the prism of 2016, focusing on how campaigns and media present the candidates; use (and misuse) polling; the impact of debates; how campaigns identify and compete in battleground states; how it all plays into selecting the Democratic nominee, and ultimately, the presidency.

Philippe Reines is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State under Hillary Clinton. From 2002 to 2017 he also served as a Senior Advisor and Spokesman. In 2016 Philippe was assigned the role of playing Donald Trump in Hillary’s preparations for the three General Election debates against him, giving him a unique insight—then and now—into the strengths and weaknesses of his message.

CVS 210-01ENV 286-01UEP 286-01

Environmental Ethics

Instructor: Sheldon Krimsky, Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy & Planning

Explores the values, rights, responsibilities and status of entities underlying alternative constructions of environmental issues. Subjects include: anthropocentric vs. biocentric approaches to natural resource protection, precautionary principle, ethics of cost-benefit analysis, equity and risk management, status of "rights" of non-human species and future generations, ethics of sustainable development and energy use, genetically modified crops, transgenic animals, deep ecology, and economic and non-economic value of wilderness and sacred lands.

CVS 147-01FMS 52-01CSHD 167-01

Children and Mass Media

Instructor: Julie Dobrow, Tisch College Senior Fellow for Media and Civic Engagement

This course focuses on why educators, broadcasters, advertisers, and politicians consider children a special audience of the mass media. It is an examination of children's media content (television, video, computers, film, and print) and the effects of media on children and adolescents; and of regulations that govern children's media use, including V-chip, ratings systems, and Internet access. Students complete projects on media literacy and other topics.

CSV 31-01AMER 47-01ENG 52-01

Dissent & Democracy in American Literature

Instructor: Elizabeth Ammons, Professor of English

A literature survey focused on "dissent" and "democracy": two major thematic and formal concerns of early American writing. Readings include exploration narratives, settlement propaganda, sermons, autobiographies, political pamphlets, philosophical essays, poetry, short fiction, and novels. Brings together Native American, white European American, African American, Latinx, and Asian American voices to think about the construction of literary history, the politics of representation, and why this matters today. Authors studied include Phillis Wheatley, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Frederick Douglass, Emily Dickinson, Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, Sui Sin Far, and Zitkála-Šá.

Spring 2019

Learn about some of the courses we offered or co-sponsored last semester.

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

Introduction to Civic Studies

Instructor: Peter Levine, Tisch College Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
Co-Instructor: (Fall) Brian Schaffner, Newhouse Professor of Civic Studies, (Spring) 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, Nanda Chitre, Tisch College Visiting Instructor, Former Principal Deputy Director for the Office of Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Justice and Former Deputy Assistant to the President and White House Deputy Press Secretary

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 asking of the government, the press and of themselves.

PJS 50-02CVS 150-04

Special Topics: Dialogue, Identity & Civic Action

Instructor: Jonathan Garlick, Professor, Schools of Dental Medicine, Medicine, Engineering and Tisch College Senior Fellow for Civic Science
Co-Instructor: Katie Hyten, Essential Partners

This course offers students the opportunity to think critically about the intersection of identity and community engagement through in-depth training in designing and facilitating conversations across differences. Students will learn frameworks for designing and facilitating dialogues that build mutual understanding and opportunities for collaboration across differences – then have an opportunity to design and facilitate a conversation on an issue they care about on campus.  Our learning objectives are for students to be able to independently facilitate in spaces where people can communicate openly and authentically about complex or divisive issues.

This course is limited to 14 students.  

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
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.

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.