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Tisch College Advances the Frontiers of Democracy

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Our annual civic engagement conference gathered diverse leaders in the work of strengthening our democracy.


On June 25-27, Tisch College held its annual Frontiers of Democracy conference, which brought together academics, policymakers, researchers, innovators, and practitioners to discuss challenges and opportunities in democratic engagement.

The event, now in its eighth year, is hosted by Tisch College and co-organized by the Deliberative Democracy Consortium and by The Democracy Imperative, which is led by Tisch College researcher Nancy Thomas. Its presenters and participants included individuals and organizations whose work in areas like voting, community organizing, media, civic technologies, and higher education practices is essential to the critical endeavor of strengthening American democracy.

“Our democratic institutions are seriously troubled, and the future of our democracy is at risk,” said Tisch College Dean Alan Solomont in his welcoming remarks. “And I think it’s a particularly important moment to be asking the questions that we’re asking about how we repair our civic and democratic institutions.”

The conference featured interactive learning exchanges on topics such as community-police relationships, social justice in higher education, the intersection of faith and community, conflict resolution theory and practice. As in previous years, there were also a series of provocative “short take” presentations by distinguished speakers like Harry Boyte, who leads the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg College; Denise Merrill, Connecticut’s Secretary of State; and Abhi Nemani, Chief Data Officer for the City of Los Angeles.

“Not that many other spaces gather as much talent and passion in the cause of civic renewal,” said Tisch College’s Associate Dean for Research, Peter Levine.

As in previous years, Frontiers of Democracy immediately followed the Summer Institute of Civic Studies, an intensive, two-week scholarly seminar taught by Levine and Karol Soltan, professor of Government & Politics at the University of Maryland. This year’s Summer Institute included participants from the Netherlands, Liberia, Singapore, Mexico, Chile, and Zimbabwe. Next month, Levine and Soltan will teach a “sister Summer Institute” in Ukraine.