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6th Annual Summer Institute of Civic Studies | Call for Applications

The sixth annual Summer Institute of Civic Studies will be an intensive, two-week, interdisciplinary seminar that considers civic theories and civic practices as part of an effort to develop the new field of civic studies. To date, more than 100 practitioners, advanced graduate students, and faculty from diverse fields of study have participated. The Institute is organized by Peter Levine of Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College and Karol Sołtan of the University of Maryland.

See for more information.


The idea of a field of “civic studies” was proposed in 2007 in a joint statement by Harry Boyte, University of Minnesota; Stephen Elkin, University of Maryland; Peter Levine, Tufts University; Jane Mansbridge, Harvard University; Elinor Ostrom, Indiana University; Karol Sołtan, University of Maryland; and Rogers Smith, University of Pennsylvania. See

The field can be seen as the intellectual component of the emerging movement for civic renewal.

Civic studies aims to develop ideas and ways of thinking helpful to citizens, understood as co-creators of their worlds. The field does not consider “citizens” as official members of political jurisdictions, nor does it invoke the word “democracy.” One can be a co-creator in many settings, ranging from loose social networks, local communities, and religious congregations to the globe. Not all of these venues are, or could be, democracies.

Civic studies asks, “What should we do?” It explores ethics (what is right and good?), facts (what is actually going on?), strategies (what would work?), and the institutions that we co-create. Good strategies may take many forms and use many instruments, but if a strategy addresses the question “What should we do?”, then it must guide our own actions–it cannot simply be about how other people ought to act.

Civic studies is not civic education. Nor is it the study of civic education. However, when more fully developed, it should influence how citizenship is taught in schools and colleges.

For more on civic studies, see:

o The new book edited by Peter Levine and Karol Edward Sołtan: Civic Studies: Approaches to the Emerging Field (American Association of Colleges and Universities, 2014), which is available free at

o The Good Society Symposium on Civic Studies, written and edited teachers and alumni of the Summer Institute

o The syllabus for the fourth annual seminar (in 2013): (The 2014 syllabus will be modified but will largely follow this outline.)


Sessions will take place weekdays from July 7-17, 2014, at the Tufts campus in Medford, MA. The seminar will be followed by a public conference—“Frontiers of Democracy 2014” that will conclude on July 18 at 6 pm. Participants in the Institute are expected to stay for “Frontiers” as well.

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 about $230-$280/week. Credit is not automatically offered, but special arrangements for graduate credit may be possible.


Please email your resume, an electronic copy of your graduate transcript (if applicable), and a cover email about your interests to Peter Levine at For best consideration, apply no later than March 15, 2014.  You may also sign up for occasional announcements even if you are not sure that you wish to apply:

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