Summer Institute of Civic Studies

Our 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.

In 2015, the dates will be June 15-27. This year’s seminar is now full.

Read the Summer Institute of Civic Studies’ Framing Statement.

Organized by Peter Levine, Tisch College, and Karol Sołtan, 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?

You can also read more about the motivation for the Institute in this overview page on civic studies. A sample syllabus (from the 2014 Summer Institute) is below.

The daily sessions take place at the Tufts campus in Medford, MA. The seminar concludes with a public conference, “Frontiers of Democracy.” Participants in the Institute are expected to stay for the public conference. See information on the 2014 conference here.  (The dates of “Frontiers” this year will be June 25-27).

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.

You may fill out this form to sign up for occasional announcements about the Summer Institute of Civic Studies. Please note that completing this form does not mean that you have officially applied.

Sample Syllabus (2015)

Monday June 15

9:30-11:30 AM: Introductions and Inspirations (PL and KS)

1 pm – 3:00 pm: Seminar on Civic Theory

Theorist: Elinor Ostrom and the commons [KS]

3:30-5:30 pm

Venue: The person in development as a citizen [PL]

Tuesday, June 16

10 AM – 12 noon: Seminar on Civic Theory

Theorist: Jürgen Habermas and critical social theory [PL]

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

2-4 pm Seminar on Civic Practice: The venues of civic work

Venue: Negotiation and deliberation [KS and PL]

4:30-6 pm: speaker or event to be named later

Wednesday, June 17

10 AM – 12 noon: Seminar on Civic Theory

Theorist: Hannah Arendt

2-4 pm Seminar on Civic Practice: The venues of civic work

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

4:30-6 pm: speaker or event to be named later

Thursday, June 18

10 AM – 12 noon: Seminar on Civic Theory

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

2-4 pm Seminar on Civic Practice: The venues of civic work

Venue: Community organizing and popular education [PL]

4:30-6 pm: speaker or event to be named later
Friday, June 19

10 AM – 12 noon: Seminar on Civic Theory

Theorist: Robert Putnam and social capital [PL]

2-4 pm Seminar on Civic Practice: The venues of civic work

Venue: friendship (and its limits)

(No 4:30 session. Weekend)

Monday, June 22

Theorist: Roberto Mangabeira Unger and radical modernism [KS]

2-4 pm Seminar on Civic Practice: The venues of civic work

Venue: Social movements [KS]

4:30-6 pm: speaker or event to be named later

Tuesday, June 23
10 AM – 12 noon: Seminar on Civic Theory

Theorists: Dewey and pragmatism [PL]

2-4 pm Seminar on Civic Practice: The venues of civic work

Venue: The American Republic [PL]

4:30-6 pm: speaker or event to be named later
Wednesday, June 24
10 AM – 12 noon: Seminar on Civic Theory

Theorist: James Madison and thinking constitutionally [KS]

2-4 pm Seminar on Civic Practice: The venues of civic work

Venue: Other republics [KS]

  • Bruce Ackerman, “T he 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 pm: speaker or event to be named later

Thursday, June 25

10 AM – 12 noon: Seminar on Civic Theory

Theorist: Edmund Burke

2-4 pm Seminar on Civic Practice: The venues of civic work

Venue: The world [KS]

No Speaker: Public Conference Begins