Trench Democracy: Conversations on Participatory Democracy

We’re happy to announce a new long-running series with Albert Dzur. His dispatches from the front lines of civics will be available in full here and excerpts will run on the Boston Review website.

Read Albert Dzur’s new piece in the Boston Review on civic practice, introducing the series:

Bringing lay people together to make justice, education, public health, and public safety—when done as a routine part of the normal social environment—helps fill in the erosion produced by the destructuring of public life. It is accomplished in part by repairing our frayed participatory infrastructure—the traditional town meetings, public hearings, jury trials, citizen oversight committees, for example—but also by remodeling this and creating new civic spaces. Democratic professionals in schools, public health clinics, and prisons who share their load-bearing work are innovators who are expanding, not just conserving, our neglected democratic inheritance.

Editorial Board Member Peter Levine discusses the project here.

Power and Persuasion from Below: Civic Renewal, Youth Engagement, and the Case for Civic Studies

1. Theme Panel: “Power and Persuasion from Below: Civic Renewal, Youth Engagement, and the Case for Civic Studies,” Aug 30, 2013, 4:15 PM-6:00 PM
Chair: Peter Levine, Tufts University. Participants: Paul Dragos Aligica, George Mason University; Carmen Sirianni, Brandeis University; Karol E. Soltan, University of Maryland; Filippo A. Sabetti McGill University; and Meira Levinson, Harvard University

“Civic renewal” refers to an international set of movements and practices that enhance citizens’ agency and may therefore strengthen persuasion over raw power. In the US, it includes public deliberation, broad-based community organizing, and collaborative governance, among other efforts. Its values have also been reflected in aspects of the Occupy Movement and the Arab Spring, to name just two recent global movements. Youth are at the forefront of some of these efforts and must always be incorporated in them. “Civic Studies” is an emerging scholarly field inspired by Elinor and Vincent Ostrom and the Bloomington School, by social science as phronesis, by the new constitutionalism, by theories of public work and democratic professionalism, by research on deliberative democracy, and by related academic movements that take civic agency seriously. Civic education should draw on Civic Studies and support civic renewal.