Frontiers of Democracy

Frontiers of Democracy 2015

June 25-27
145 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA 02111

The 2015 Frontiers of Democracy Conference has concluded! Thanks to all the participants and attendees who made this year’s gathering a successful, thought-provoking event. In the coming days, we’ll be posting video of the conference’s “short takes” and plenary sessions. For now, you can check out the online conversation as it happened through #DemFront


While powerful forces work against justice and civil society around the world, committed and innovative people strive to understand and improve citizens’ engagement with government, with community, and with each other. Every year, Frontiers of Democracy convenes some of these practitioners and scholars for organized discussions and informal interactions. Topics 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. Devoted to new issues and innovative solutions, this conference is truly at the frontiers of democracy.

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

We also offer very short, provocative, invited talks. The “Short Takes” speakers for 2015 will feature:

Harry Boyte leads the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg College. Boyte has been an architect of a “public work” approach to civic engagement and democracy promotion, a conceptual framework on citizenship that has gained world-wide recognition for its theoretical innovations and its practical effectiveness.

Hahrie Han teaches political science at Wellesley College. Her two most recent books are How Organizations Develop Activists: Civic Associations and Leadership in the 21st Century and Groundbreakers: How Obama’s 2.1 Million Activists Transformed Field Campaigns in America (co-authored with Elizabeth McKenna)

Diana E. Hess is Senior Vice President of the Spencer Foundation and Professor of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her most recent book, with Paula McAvoy, is The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education.

Caroline W. Lee teaches sociology at Lafayette College. Her most recent books include Do-it-Yourself Democracy, based on her ethnography of the public engagement industry, and Democratizing Inequalities, an edited volume with Ed Walker and Mike McQuarrie about the dramatic expansion of democratic practices in an era of stark economic inequalities.

Denise Merrill is Connecticut’s 73rd Secretary of the State. In that capacity, she has focused on modernizing Connecticut’s election process and making voting easier. She also co-chairs the State’s Civic Health Advisory Group, which is responsible for implementing action strategies identified in Connecticut’s 2012 Civic Health Report. She has a longstanding commitment to civic education and expanding democratic participation.

Tina Nabatchi (PhD, Indiana University-Bloomington, 2007) is an associate professor of public administration and international affairs at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, where she also co-directs the Collaborative Governance Initiative for the Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration (PARCC). Her research focuses on citizen participation, collaborative governance, and conflict resolution. She is the lead editor of Democracy in Motion: Evaluating the Practice and Impact of Deliberative Civic Engagement (Oxford University Press, 2012), co-author of Collaborative Governance Regimes (with Kirk Emerson, Georgetown University Press), and co-author of Public Participation for 21st Century Democracy (with Matt Leighninger, Wiley/Blackwell)

Abhi Nemani is currently the first Chief Data Officer for the City of Los Angeles. Formerly, he helped build, launch, and run the national non-profit, Code for America.

Ambassador Alan D. Solomont, dean of Tisch College
Alan D. Solomont is a former U.S. ambassador to Spain and Andorra and a lifelong social and political activist, serves as the Pierre and Pamela Omidyar Dean of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts. Prior to his posting to Madrid, Solomont chaired the bipartisan board of directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that oversees such domestic service programs as AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve America, VISTA and Senior Corps. He was first appointed to the board by President Clinton in 2000, reappointed by President George W. Bush in 2007 and elected chair in 2009. He began has career as a community organizer in Lowell, MA.

Ajume Wingo teaches philosophy at the University of Colorado Boulder. His last book is entitled Veil Politics in Liberal Democratic States, and he is collaborating with Michael Kruse on The Citizen, a book about how Africans can move beyond where their history has put them and begin to make their own future and secure their own political freedom.

Brenda Wright is Vice President of Legal Strategies at Demos.  She has led many progressive legal and policy initiatives on voting rights, campaign finance reform, redistricting, election administration and other democracy and electoral reform issues and is a nationally known expert in these areas.

Frontiers is hosted by Tisch College and co-sponsored by the Democracy Imperative, and the Deliberative Democracy Consortium.To add your name to the Frontiers email list for very occasional updates, enter your information here. (That does not hold a space)

2014 Frontiers of Democracy

You can watch videos of the conference’s “short takes” speeches below. You can also check out the online conversation.

Frontiers 2014: The State of the Civic Field

Civic work is proliferating: many different kinds of people, working in different contexts and issue areas, are expanding the ways in which citizens engage with government, community, and each other. It is increasingly clear that growing inequality, social and political fragmentation, and lack of democratic opportunities are undermining our efforts to address public priorities such as health, education, poverty, the environment, and government reform. The 2014 “Frontiers of Democracy” conference, in downtown Boston, was an invigorating, argumentative, civil discussion on the state and future of the civic field.

For the full conference agenda and for details on each speaker and panelist, please see the 2014 Frontiers of Democracy agenda.

See what you missed

The following playlist includes all ten “short take” speeches from the 2014 Frontiers of Democracy conference. Watch individual speeches on our YouTube channel.

Join us next year

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.