Frontiers of Democracy 2016

The annual Frontiers of Democracy conference will take place on June 23-25, 2016 at Tufts University’s downtown Boston campus.

Please use this form to register and hold a place.

Short takes speakers

We will hear brief, inspiring “short take” talks from speakers who will include:

    • Danielle Allen, Harvard University, author of Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality (2014)
    • Laura Grattan, Wellesley College, author of Populism’s Power: Radical Grassroots Democracy in America (2016)
    • Joseph Hoereth, Director of the Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement at the University of Illinois at Chicago
    • Hélène Landemore, Yale University, author of Democratic Reason: Politics, Collective Intelligence, and the Rule of the Many (2012)
    • Frances Moore Lappé, Small Planet Institute and author of 18 books including Democracy’s Edge: Choosing to Save Our Country by Bringing Democracy to Life.
    • Tiago Peixoto, Team Lead, World Bank’s Digital Engagement Unit
    • Talmon J. Smith, Tufts ’16, a Huffington Post columnist on political reform
    • Victor Yang, an organizer for the SEIU
    • A panel on civic tech with Nigel Jacob (City of Boston), Jesse Littlewood (Common Cause), and Chris Wells (University of Wisconsin)

Learning exchanges

Most of the time will be spent on 90-minute, interactive sessions called “learning exchanges.”


Thursday, 6/23

5:00 PM Registration and Reception
5:45 PM Welcome and Opening Remarks
6:00-7:30 PM Four “Short Takes,” followed by group discussion (Joseph Hoereth, Hélène Landemore, Frances Moore Lappé, Tiago Peixoto)

Friday, 6/24

8:00 AM Breakfast/logistics
9:00-10:30 AM Six Concurrent Learning Exchanges
10:30-10:45 AM BREAK
10:45 AM-12:15PM Six Concurrent Learning Exchanges
12:15 PM LUNCH
1:15-2:45 PM Six Concurrent Learning Exchanges
3:45-3:00 PM BREAK
3:00-4:15 PM “Text, Talk, Vote” – plenary participation/interaction
4:15-6:00 PM Short Takes (Danielle Allen, Laura Grattan, Talmon J. Smith, Victor Yang) followed by discussion

Saturday, 6/25

8:00-9:00 AM Networking Breakfast
9:00-10:30 AM Panel: Civic Tech – 1. Chris Wells 2. Jesse Littlewood 3. Nigel Jacob
10:30-10:45 AM BREAK
10:45AM-12:15 PM Six Concurrent Learning Exchanges
12:15-12:30 PM Closing Remarks

Conference framing

Tisch College at Tufts University is proud to sponsor this annual conference in partnership with The Democracy Imperative and Deliberative Democracy Consortium. Frontiers of Democracy draws scholars and practitioners who strive to understand and improve people’s engagement with government, with communities, and with each other. We aim to explore the circumstances of democracy today and a breadth of civic practices that include deliberative democracy, civil and human rights, social justice, community organizing and development, civic learning and political engagement, the role of higher education in democracy, Civic Studies, media reform and citizen media production, civic technology, civic environmentalism, and common pool resource management. This year, the theme of the conference is “the politics of discontent,” which we define broadly and view in a global perspective.

Most of Frontiers is devoted to interactive discussions and learning exchanges. View the full list of the 2015 learning exchanges and the 2015 schedule.

Pre-Conference Workshop: Public Engagement Strategy Lab

Looking for assistance in revamping or strengthening your public engagement strategies, structures and tools? Public Agenda’s team will help you assess the strengths and weaknesses of public engagement in your community; explore potential benefits of more sustained forms of participation; develop practical skills for planning for stronger engagement infrastructure; and demonstrate a mix of small group and large group discussions, interactive exercises, case studies and practical exercises.

This preconference session for the Frontiers of Democracy 2016 conference is hosted by Tisch College. Space is limited and registration is required. Click here to register by June 16th

Thursday, June 23, 2016, 9:30am – 4:30pm; Tufts University Medical School, 145 Harrison Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02111

Cost: Early Bird $275 (by May 15, 2016) or Regular $350 (after May 15, 2016).  Questions? Contact or call Mattie at 212-686-6610 ext.137

2015 Frontiers of Democracy

Thanks to all the participants and attendees who made last year’s gathering a successful, thought-provoking event. The following playlist includes all “short take” talks from the 2015 Frontiers of Democracy conference. Watch individual presentations on our YouTube channel. You can also check out the online conversation as it happened through #DemFront.

Sign up for updates

If you want to add your name to the “Frontiers” email list for very occasional updates, you may enter your information here. You can also click here to join the Tisch College contact list and learn more about the ways Tisch College promotes civic engagement on the Tufts campus and beyond.