The Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life conducts and supports leading research on civic and political engagement, civil society, and citizenship. A vital part of our mission to empower an informed and engaged citizenry, Tisch College research and analysis informs the national conversation on the health of our civic institutions and the role of young people in our democracy. Tisch College also works closely with scholars, both at Tufts University and beyond, who undertake community-based research or otherwise engage communities in efforts to address pressing social problems.

We pursue this vital scholarship through several research initiatives:


The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE) focuses on the political life of young people in the United States, especially those who are marginalized or disadvantaged. CIRCLE’s scholarly research informs policy and practice for healthier youth development and a better democracy. The leading source of authoritative research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans, CIRCLE works nationally with youth-serving organizations to help them understand and assess the impact of their programming, as well as make the case for policy and infrastructure that supports youth engagement. As part of the Tufts academic community, CIRCLE supports and conducts research within Tisch College and across the University.

Learn more about CIRCLE, or visit their website.


Launched in 2013, the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) is a service to colleges and universities interested in learning about their students’ voting habits, as well as a national database for research on college student voting and, more broadly, political learning and engagement in democracy. By participating in NSLVE, American colleges and universities can learn the registration and voting rates of their students for the 2012 and 2014 elections. NSLVE is the first and only study to objectively examine student and institution-level data on student voting and to share these data with participating campuses. The study’s growing database includes over 900 campuses across the country and over 8 million student records.

Learn more about NSLVE.

Tisch College Community Research Center at Tufts

Tisch College Community Research Center at Tufts, founded and supported by Tisch College, seeks to involve Tufts faculty and students from across all schools of the University in research done in collaboration with community partners. Run by a steering committee of community members and Tufts faculty and staff—including two representatives from Tisch College—TCRC places a special emphasis on Tufts’ host communities of Somerville, Medford, and Boston’s Chinatown. Supported research must involve a formal community partner and produce scholarship at the same time it yields knowledge useful to the community. Priority is given to redressing issues of disparity, inequality and injustice in society.

Learn more about TCRC.

Civic Renewal

Civic renewal—meaning efforts to increase the prevalence, equity, quality, and impact of civic engagement–has long been central to the mission of Tisch College and its predecessor organizations. Our researchers are involved in documenting specific current threats and weaknesses to American civic engagement while exploring potential solutions.

Learn more about our civic renewal research.

Civic Studies

Tisch College is at the forefront of building the new academic discipline of civic studies. Civic studies is the intellectual component of civic renewal; its goal is to develop ideas and ways of thinking helpful to citizens, understood as co-creators of their worlds. In short, civic studies asks: “What should we do?”

Central to our efforts in Civic Studies is the scholarship of Peter Levine, our Associate Dean for Research. Each year, Levine co-teaches the Summer Institute of Civic Studies, an intensive two-week seminar that brings together doctoral students and advanced practitioners for intensive discussions focused heavily on theory. The annual Frontiers of Democracy conference, which follows the Summer Institute, is devoted to exploring new issues and innovative solutions in the field of civic engagement.

Learn more about civic studies.