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Civic Leaders Explore the Frontiers of Democracy

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Tisch College's annual conference about democratic participation and civic life drew a wide range of scholars and practitioners.

Assembled attendees at Frontiers of Democracy conference

On June 23-26, Tisch College hosted its annual Frontiers of Democracy conference, a gathering of civic leaders, theorists, researchers, and practitioners who explore vital questions about how to improve civic life in the United States and around the world.

The gathering, cosponsored by The Democracy Imperative and the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, attracted nearly 150 participants to Tufts University’s Boston campus for three days of workshops, interactive learning exchanges, and provocative “short take” talks from prominent figures in the field. Featured speakers included Danielle Allen, Director of the Center for Ethics and Professor of Government and Education at Harvard University; political theorist Hélène Landemore, Associate Professor of Political Science at Yale University; Tiago Peixoto, Team Lead at the World Bank’s Digital Engagement Unit; and Talmon Smith, A16, a Tufts graduate and former Tisch Scholar who is currently a teaching assistant and research associate at the NYU Arthur Carter Journalism Institute.

Speakers and attendees explored topics like deliberative democracy, civil rights, social justice, community organizing, civic learning, and political engagement. The conference theme was “the politics of discontent,” and in his opening remarks, Peter Levine, Associate Dean for Research at Tisch College, described some of the discontent causing and caused by political and social crises around the world which imbue this year’s Frontiers with a special sense of urgency.

“The stakes couldn’t be much higher,” said Levine. “We must squarely face unresolved problems, such as how to expand civic values and practices to the scale of nations and the globe, how to tap the power of social movements, and how to define and confront evil. We must do more and better, and we must change fast.”

Watch video of the 2016 Frontiers speakers below: