Author Archives: Peter

About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.

should Democrats play constitutional hardball in 2019-20?

In How Democracies Die, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt use comparative evidence to argue that democracies rely on two “soft guardrails”: constitutional forbearance and mutual toleration.* Forbearance means that political actors refrain from using all the powers that the written … Continue reading

Posted in 2018 election, Trump, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

how information relates to power, according to C.V. Wedgewood

C.V. (Veronica) Wedgewood’s The Thirty Years War is almost a century old, but it remains an inexhaustible source of insights. TaNahisi Coates loves it, too: “Take this for whatever it’s worth but she writes better than any historian I’ve ever … Continue reading

Posted in civic theory, press criticism | Leave a comment

Nicole Doerr, Political Translation: How Social Movement Democracies Survive

A century ago, Robert Michels observed what he called the “Iron Law of Oligarchy” at work in the socialist and revolutionary labor parties and movements of Europe. He argued that these groups provided “the best field of observation” for the … Continue reading

Posted in civic theory, deliberation | Leave a comment

come work at CIRCLE (and two other great jobs involving civic engagement)

We are hiring a researcher for the CIRCLE team, which I supervise. Researcher – Tisch College – (18001131) The Researcher will work with CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement), a research-based think tank that studies how young … Continue reading

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what does youth civic engagement have to do with inequality?

In lieu of a blog post here today, this is a piece I wrote for the W.T. Grant Foundation’s website. It begins: My colleagues and I at the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE) have … Continue reading

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media literacy and the social discovery of reality

If you’re concerned about media education in the current fraught moment, you should read danah boyd’s “You Think You Want Media Literacy… Do You?” and Renee Hobbs’ response in Medium. In my crude summary: danah boyd surveys some media literacy programs and sees … Continue reading

Posted in civic theory, press criticism, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

the Massachusetts Civics Bill #MAcivicsforall

The Massachusetts legislature is considering S. 2306, An Act to Promote and Enhance Civic Engagement. According to the Massachusetts Civic Learning Coalition‘s summary, the bill: Requires that all public schools teach American history and civics education. Promotes comprehensive, project-based civic … Continue reading

Posted in advocating civic education, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

the first “civic ed” bill: 1642

The Massachusetts legislature is considering S. 2306, a bill to enhance civic education. I’m for this legislation. Questions about whether the Commonwealth should require civics–or, indeed, any subject–led me to wonder when civics was first mandated in Massachusetts. I think … Continue reading

Posted in advocating civic education, education policy | Leave a comment

notes on the metaphysics of Gandhi and King

Gandhi offers a fully developed metaphysics and epistemology–original even though it is grounded in classical Indian thought. For Martin Luther King, Protestant theology provides a core theory of human nature, but King navigates his way through debates in modern Protestantism … Continue reading

Posted in civic theory, philosophy | Leave a comment

new Civic Studies major at Tufts

Yesterday, the Tufts Faculty of Arts & Sciences approved our proposal for a new major in Civic Studies, the first in the world. It will begin next fall, and I’ll co-teach the new introductory course with my colleagues Erin Kelly … Continue reading

Posted in academia, advocating civic education, civic theory | Leave a comment