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Summer Institute of Civic Studies

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Tufts University

The fourth annual Summer Institute of Civic Studies at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service is in its second and final week, but it’s not too late to start following along with the class’s reading syllabus, here. The course, organized by Peter Levine, director of the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts, and Karol Soltan, University of Maryland, seeks to engage participants in answering questions like:

  • 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?

The need for the Institute and the study and promotion of citizenship stems from what the organizers see as a “weakening and downright disappearance of the public spirit, understood not simply as a commitment to the common good and public service, but as a commitment to help create a better world” and the “loss of civic artisanship, understood most broadly, as an attitude and a set of skills reflected in the capacity to create public things as individuals and to create those things together.” Read more about the Institute’s framing statement, here.

Over at his blog, Peter Levine has been posting daily about what he has been teaching at the seminar. For example, last week he led a discussion on the civic education of children and the need to teach citizenship. As he notes, “People don’t automatically learn to be good citizens; that has to be taught [… and since people are always entering and exiting the society,] designing a good society that engages its people in governance must take into account the life cycle.” He then goes on to describe the readings for the day–for example, Joel Westheimer and Joseph Kahne’s  “Educating the ‘Good Citizen’: Political Choices and Pedagogical Goals”–and the conversations that ensued.

Learn more about the Summer Institute of Civic Studies here, and register for the “Frontiers of Democracy: Innovations in Civic Practice, Theory, and Education” conference, to be hosted at the Tufts University School of Medicine this Thursday through Saturday, here. Confirmed speakers include Meira Levinson (Harvard Graduate School of Education), Eric Liu (Guiding Lights Network), and Kristen Cambell (National Conference on Citizenship), among others.