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.

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 2013 Summer Institute) is below.

The daily sessions take place in mid-July at the Tufts campus in Medford, MA. The seminar is followed by a public three-day conference, “Frontiers of Democracy.” Participants in the Institute are required to stay for the public conference. See information on the 2014 conference here.

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.

Fill out this form to sign up for occasional announcements about the 2015 Summer Institute of Civic Studies. Please note that completing this form does not mean that you have officially applied.

Sample Syllabus (2013)

(Links are mostly to copyrighted documents and require class registration for access.)

Monday July 8

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 Seminar on Civic Practice: The venues of civic work

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

No visitor

Tuesday, July 9

10 AM – 12 noon: Seminar on Civic Theory

Theorist: Jürgen Habermas and critical social theory [PL]

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

Venue: Negotiation and deliberation [KS and PL]

4:30-6 pm Visitors: Adam Seligman and Rahel Wasserfall, Boston University and the International Summer School on Religion and Public Life

Wednesday, July 10

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: Community organizing and popular education [PL]

4:30-6 pm  Visitor: Susan Ostrander, Sociology, Tufts University

Thursday, July 11

10 AM – 12 noon: Seminar on Civic Theory

Theorists: Dewey and Selznick and pragmatism [PL and KS]

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

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

4:30-6 pm Visitors:Luz Santana and Dan Rothstein, The Right Question Institute

Friday, July 12

10 AM – 12 noon: Seminar on Civic Theory

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

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

Venue: Social movements [KS]

No visitor

(Weekend)

Monday, July 15

10 AM – 12 noon: Seminar on Civic Theory

Theorist: Roberto Mangabeira Unger and democratic experimentalism [KS]

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

Venue: Government or Governance [PL]

4:30-6:00 pm Visitor: Roger Swartz, The Positive Deviance Institute

Tuesday, July 16

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: The American Republic [PL]

  • Michael Schudson, The Good Citizen, introduction and chapter 5
  • Matthew A. Crenson and Benjamin Ginsberg, Downsizing Democracy: How America Sidelined its Citizens and Privatized the Public, pp. 1-46

4:30-6 pm Speaker: Prof. Carmen Sirianni, Brandeis  

Wednesday, July 17

 10 AM – 12 noon: Seminar on Civic Theory

Theorists: Edmund Burke, Friedrich von Hayek and human limits [KS]

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

Venue: Other republics [KS]

4:30-6 pm Speaker: Professor Kent Portney, Tufts

Thursday, July 18

10 AM – 12 noon: Seminar on Civic Theory

Theorists: Amartya Sen, Martha C. Nussbaum and the capabilities approach [KS]

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

Venue: The world [KS]

No Speaker: Public Conference Begins