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Civic Studies Field Continues to Grow

This post comes via Dr. Peter Levine, a civics scholar, philosopher, and NCDD supporting member. Peter recently announced on his blog that he will be helping convene a “civics studies mini-conference” this January in New Orleans as part of the Southern Political Science Association meeting. 

Civic studies is an emerging discipline that holds a great deal of value and potential for deepening the work of our field. I personally participated in Peter’s Summer Institute of Civic Studies last year in Boston, which helped me see first hand that the work Peter and his academic peers are doing to advance the discipline has a great deal to offer in terms of expanding and refining our own work in engagement. 

We will definitely be keeping an eye on the gathering and the progress of the civic studies movement, and we encourage NCDD members, especially our academic friends, to do the same.


Civic Studies Mini-Conference

Soon after the volume entitled Civic Studies is published, a daylong discussion of the same topic will take place at the Southern Political Science Association meeting (January 10th, 2014, in New Orleans).

As Karol Soltan and I write in the volume, the phrase “civic studies” is quite new. A group of scholars coined it in 2007 in a collaborative statement entitled “The New Civic Politics: Civic Theory and Practice for the Future.” Civic Studies does not mean civic education, although it should ultimately improve civic education. Instead, in the words of original framework, Civic Studies is an “emerging intellectual community, a field, and a discipline. Its work is to understand and strengthen civic politics, civic initiatives, civic capacity, civic society, and civic culture.”

The framework cites two definitive ideals for the emerging discipline of civic studies “public spiritedness” (or “commitment to the public good”) and “the idea of the citizen as a creative agent.” Civic studies is an intellectual community that takes these two ideals seriously. Although new, it draws from several important strands of ongoing research: the Nobel-Prize-winning scholarship of Elinor and Vincent Ostrom on managing common assets; deliberative democracypublic work; the study of public participation in development; the idea of social science as practical wisdom or phronesis; and community-based research in fields like sociology.

Here is the agenda for the mini-conference:

Civic Studies “Conference Within a Conference” 

Friday, January 10, 2014, New Orleans, LA

9:45 to 11:15am — Author Meets Critics for Peter Levine’s We Are The Ones We Have Been Waiting For

  • Author: Peter Levine (Tufts University)
  • Critic: Olivia Newman (Harvard University)
  • Critic: Ryan McBride (Tulane University)
  • Critic: Thad Williamson (University of Richmond)
  • Critic: Rumman Chowdhury (University of California, San Diego)
  • Chair: Susan Orr (College at Brockport, SUNY)
  • * Albert Dzur participating remotely via skype

1:15 to 2:45pm — Roundtable “What is Civic Studies?”

  • Participant: Karol Soltan (University of Maryland)
  • Participant: Peter Levine (Tufts University)
  • Participant: Tina Nabatchi (Maxwell School Syracuse University)
  • Participant: Thad Williamson (University of Richmond)
  • Chair: Peter Levine (Tufts University)

3:00 to 4:30pm — Teaching Civic Studies

  • Participant: Katherine Kravetz (American University)
  • Participant: Timothy J. Shaffer (Wagner College)
  • Participant: Alison Staudinger (University of Wisconsin, Green Bay)
  • Participant: Donald Harward (Bates College)
  • Participant: Susan Orr (College at Brockport, SUNY)

4:45 to 6:15pm — Author Meets Critics for Paul Aligica, Institutional Diversity and Political Economy: The Ostroms and Beyond

  • Author: Paul Aligica (George Mason University)
  • Critic: James Bohman (Saint Louis University)
  • Critic: James Johnson (University of Rochester)
  • Chair: Karol Soltan (University of Maryland)
  • Critic: Samuel Ely Bagg (Duke University)

You can find the original post on Peter’s blog here: http://peterlevine.ws/?p=12782.

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Roshan Bliss
An inclusiveness trainer and group process facilitator, Roshan Bliss serves as NCDD's Youth Engagement Coordinator and Blog Curator. Combining his belief that decisions are better when everyone is involved with his passion for empowering young people, his work focuses on increasing the involvement of youth and students in public conversations.

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  1. Great to see this post, Roshan! We just discussed this new realm of “civic studies” at the Kettering Foundation at this week’s Dayton Days gathering of Kettering staff and associates. Peter’s colleague Karol Soltan was the guest speaker. I think there was some skepticism about the ambition to launch a new “discipline” of civic studies, but there is lots of synergy with the concepts generally.

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