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Summer Institute of Civic Studies

The annual Summer Institute of Civic Studies is an intensive, two-week, interdisciplinary seminar bringing together advanced graduate students, faculty, and practitioners from diverse fields of study. The most recent Summer Institute was held from June 12 to June 22, 2017.

Organized by Peter Levine, Associate Dean of Research at Tisch College, and Karol Sołtan, Associate professor in the Department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland, the Summer Institute features guest seminars by distinguished colleagues from various institutions and engages participants in challenging discussions such as:

  • What kinds of citizens (if any) do good regimes need?
  • What should such citizens know, believe, and do?
  • What practices and institutional structures promote the right kinds of citizenship?
  • What ought to be the relationships among empirical evidence, ethics, and strategy?

The daily sessions take place on the Tufts campus in Medford, MA. The seminar concludes with a public conference, Frontiers of Democracy, and participants in the Institute are expected to stay for the conference.

Tuition for the Institute is free, but students are responsible for their own housing and transportation. A Tufts University dormitory room can be rented for $230-$280/week. Credit is not automatically offered but special arrangements for graduate credit may be possible.

A sample syllabus (from the 2016 Summer Institute) is below.

For more information contact Peter Levine, Tisch College's Associate Dean for Research, at peter.levine@tufts.edu.

The Sister Seminar in Eastern Europe

Starting in 2015, a parallel Summer Institute has taken place in Europe for participants from Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, and Germany. These 'sister seminars' are co-organized by Peter Levine and Karol Sołtan with Dr. Tetyana Kloubert from the University of Augsburg. For more information about the Summer Institute of Civic Studies in Eastern Europe, please contact Dr. Kloubert at tetyana.kloubert@phil.uni-augsburg.de

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2016 Summer Institute Syllabus

Note: This syllabus was modified for 2017

Monday June 13

9:30-11:30 a.m.  Introductions and Inspirations [Peter Levine (PL) and Karol Soltan (KS)]

1:00-3:00 p.m.  Seminar on Civic Theory

Theorist: Elinor Ostrom and the commons [KS]

3:30-5:30 p.m.  Venue: The person in development as a citizen [PL]

Tuesday, June 14

10:00 a.m.-Noon  Seminar on Civic Theory

Theorist: Jürgen Habermas and critical social theory [PL]

Note: Optional alternative or complement to the Habermas texts: James Finlayson, Habermas: A Very Short Introduction, Chapters 1-4

2:00-4:00 p.m.  Seminar on Civic Practice: The venues of civic work

Venue: Negotiation and deliberation [KS and PL]

4:30-6:00 p.m.  Visitors: Felton Earls and Maya Carlson, Harvard

Wednesday, June 15

10:00 a.m.-Noon  Seminar on Civic Theory

Theorist: Hannah Arendt

2:00-4:00 p.m.  Seminar on Civic Practice: The venues of civic work

Venue: Work (including public work), the professions [PL]

4:30-6:00 p.m.  Visitor: Dr. Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, Director of CIRCLE

Thursday, June 16

10:00 a.m.-Noon  Seminar on Civic Theory

Theorist: Bent Flyvbjerg and social science as phronesis [KS]

2:00-4:00 p.m.  Seminar on Civic Practice: The venues of civic work

Venue: Community organizing and popular education

We will be joined by Danny LeBlanc, community organizer and CEO of the Somerville Community Corporation for an informal conversation about his work. Readings:

4:30-6:00 p.m.  Visitor: Sean Young, Loyola University Chicago

Friday, June 17

10:00 a.m.-Noon  Seminar on Civic Theory

Theorist: Robert Putnam and social capital [PL]

2:00-4:00 p.m.  Seminar on Civic Practice: The venues of civic work

Venue: friendship (and its limits)

No visitor (weekend)

Monday, June 20

10:00 a.m.-Noon  Seminar on Civic Theory

Theorist: Roberto Mangabeira Unger and radical modernism [KS]

2:00-4:00 p.m.  Seminar on Civic Practice: The venues of civic work

Venue: Social movements [KS]

4:30-6:00 p.m.  Visitor: Ethan Zuckerman

Tuesday, June 21

10:00 a.m.-Noon  Seminar on Civic Theory

Theorist: Dewey and pragmatism [PL]

2:00-4:00 p.m.  Seminar on Civic Practice: The venues of civic work

Venue: The American Republic [PL]

4:30-6:00 p.m.: Visitor: Bill Traynor

Wednesday, June 22

10:00 a.m.-Noon  Seminar on Civic Theory

Theorist: James Madison and thinking constitutionally [KS]

2:00-4:00 p.m.  Seminar on Civic Practice: The venues of civic work

Venue: Other republics [KS]

  • Bruce Ackerman, “The New Separation of Powers,” Harvard Law Review, 113 (2000): 642-729. Please focus on pp. 634-43, 663-69, 685-99, 712-25. (Do not read the whole thing.)

4:30-6:00 p.m.  Visitor: Jan Boontinand, Mahidol University, Thailand

Thursday, June 23

10:00 a.m.-Noon  Seminar on Civic Theory

Theorist: Edmund Burke

2:00-4:00 p.m.  Seminar on Civic Practice: The venues of civic work

Venue: The world [KS]

No Speaker: Public Conference Begins

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