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Whither American Education?

For those in the D.C. area, don’t miss this Friday’s school reform conference at American University, “Whither American Education?” Hosted by the University’s Political Theory Institute, the all-day conference will discuss “contemporary school reforms, our deepest educational values, and the direction of American education” and will feature experts on school reform from around the country.

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Reimagining Citizenship

A diverse panel of civic leaders gathered at this year’s Aspen Ideas Festival from June 26July 2 to discuss the state of civic engagement in America. Moderated by Eric Liu, the founder of Citizen University, the “Reimagining Citizenship” panel discussed whether the spirit of citizenship was still alive in America, or if larger efforts were needed to reinvigorate civic engagement.

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Register now for Citizen University

Citizen University, a conference exploring the art of great citizenship hosted by Eric Liu’s Guiding Lights Network, will take place on Saturday, March 23, in Seattle. There is still time to register to attend—and if you sign up before March 1 you can save $40 on your registration fee. There are also discounted registration options available for students, military servicemen, and seniors.

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A path to citizenship

Writing in The Atlantic, Eric Liu, a former Clinton speechwriter and creator of Citizen University, warns that with all the discussion that’s sure to come about immigration reform, we must be careful not to neglect discussing the destination: citizenship itself.  “What is this thing that needs to be earned?” he asks. “What, besides a bundle of rights, does the status entail and require? What do longstanding citizens take for granted and what is asked of brand-new Americans?”

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The real problem with televised debates: The viewers

In his latest Time Ideas column, Eric Liu, author of The Gardens of Democracy, takes on what he sees as the real problem with televised presidential debates: us, the viewers. As tonight’s debate between President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney nears (it begins at 9:00 PM EST), Liu has some advice.

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More on mandatory voting

We’ve covered before some recent arguments for and against the idea of making voting in some way mandatory for American citizens. Joining the debate now is Eric Liu, author of The Gardens of Democracy, who wrote earlier this week in his Time Ideas column in favor of mandatory voting.

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No such thing as global citizenship

Eric Liu has an essay in The Atlantic in which he takes on the question of what “global citizenship” actually means. His answer? There isn’t such a thing as worldwide citizenship–and “if you really want to change the world, first be a good American.”

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Summer Institute of Civic Studies

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.

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Calling for more self-government

In his Time Ideas column this week, former Clinton speechwriter Eric Liu calls for citizens to take a more active  role in their self-governance. Liu argues that citizens must step up given our dire financial situation, and quotes former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich approvingly: “if we shrink government then we have to grow citizens.”

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Mandatory voting?

Writing last week in Bloomberg, Peter Orszag, a former director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Obama administration, argues that voting should be made mandatory. Using Australia as an example of a country where compulsory voting already exists, Orszag notes: “Mandating voting has a clear effect: It raises participation rates.” The United States currently has voter participation below 60 percent.

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Community service–not just a punishment

Writing the other week in Time, former Clinton speechwriter and creator of the Guiding Lights Weekend conference on citizenship, Eric Liu, wonders whether we send the right signals about the value of community service when we use it as a form of punishment or as a substitute for jail.

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Democracy is for amateurs

Writing for The Atlantic, former Clinton speechwriter and creator of the Guiding Lights Weekend conference on citizenship Eric Liu argues for the return of the amateur citizen. Unlike other fields in which the rise of the amateur is celebrated, “the work of democratic life,” he notes, “has become ever more professionalized.”

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Making civics sexy?

“I propose to revive civics by making it squarely about the thing people are too often afraid to talk about in schools: power, and the ways it is won and wielded in a democracy.” So says former Clinton speechwriter and creator of the Guiding Lights Weekend conference on citizenship Eric Liu.

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E pluribus unum

In the spring issue of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, former Clinton speechwriter Eric Liu encourages Americans–especially progressives–to reclaim their national identity and embrace both the rights and duties of American citizenship. “It is time now for a movement to re-Americanize Americans,” Liu writes. “This means reanimating our creed, cultivating the character needed for civic life, and fostering a culture of strong citizenship.”

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Tocqueville’s ‘Most Powerful Barrier’: Lawyers in Civic Society

Tocqueville’s ‘Most Powerful Barrier’: Lawyers in Civic Society
By Adam J. White
(September 2013)

To those of us who want to believe that The Federalist is the “true account of the Constitution and of the regime it was calculated to engender,” the early weeks of summer always put our faith to the test.

Every June, the Supreme Court concludes its year’s work by releasing many—maybe all—of the term’s most controversial decisions. That annual spectacle, in which judges and lawyers dominate political headlines for a week or more, often casts no little doubt on Publius’s famous prediction that “the judiciary, from the nature of its functions, will always be the least dangerous” branch of the federal government, exercising “neither force nor will, but merely judgment.” Whatever one thinks of the court’s decisions that term, one cannot deny that the court’s justices, and the lawyers that bring the cases to bar, wield enormous power in American politics.

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Toqueville’s “Most Powerful Barrier”: Lawyers in Civic Society

In the latest addition to “The Professions and Civic Culture” series, Weekly Standard contributor and Washington, DC lawyer Adam J. White discusses the evolution of American lawyers. His essay, “Tocqueville’s ‘Most Powerful Barrier’: Lawyers in Civic Society,” argues that profound changes in the legal profession have undermined lawyers’ role as a natural brake against the “revolutionary spirit and unreflective passions of democracy” that Alexis de Tocqueville admired in 19th century American lawyers.

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