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.

Frontiers of Democracy starts today

About 140 thinkers and activists for democracy gather today at Frontiers of Democracy. If you’re not among us, you can watch the live-streams of the plenary sessions. The #DemFront hashtag is also being used already for substantive conversations. In past years, the … Continue reading

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a sketch of a theory of social movements

Any social movement needs resources, such as money, existing organizations with members, physical spaces, tools for communication, people with special skills, allies within existing power structures, etc. These resources are somewhat flexible; for instance, you can do without money if … Continue reading

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Hannah Arendt and Lin-Manuel Miranda

Hannah Arendt’s interpretation of the American Revolution may not be accurate history, but it is valuable political theory, and it finds an eloquent echo in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. Arendt argues that the American revolutionaries began by seeking liberty, which they … Continue reading

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CQ article on civic education

There’s always a steady trickle of articles about civic education, and I don’t post most of them, but I do recommend “Misinformed and Unschooled, Young People Are Failing in Civics” by Emily Watkins for CQ/Roll Call. Actually, the headline is … Continue reading

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saving Habermas from the deliberative democrats

“God save me from the Marxists”–attributed to Karl Marx Jürgen Habermas is often presented as the master theorist of deliberative democracy, the author who believes that a society should approximate an “ideal speech situation” in which “the only force is the … Continue reading

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does the UK election show a return to two-party rule?

A May 2016 article in the Financial Times was headlined, “British politics has broken out of the two-party system.” The lead explains: Politics has fragmented. London’s choice of Sadiq Khan as mayor grabbed the headlines — and rightly so. But … Continue reading

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starting the 9th annual Summer Institute of Civic Studies

The 9th annual Summer Institute of Civic Studies begins this morning and continues for two weeks, with 6½ hours of seminar discussion daily.  This year’s participants hold degrees in religion and literature, social policy, social welfare, international relations, political theory, philosophy, management, education, public … Continue reading

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on teaching the US Constitution

Today at a Social Science Education Consortium meeting, Walter Parker is presenting his fine paper with Sheila Valencia and Jane Lo entitled “Going for Depth in Civic Education: A Design Experiment,” and I am replying. Parker and colleagues have completely redesigned … Continue reading

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how political knowledge related to opinions in 2016

Last fall, the American National Election Study asked a representative sample of Americans four factual-knowledge questions about government: which party controlled the House and the Senate, how long a Senator’s term lasts, and which federal program costs the most. The mean … Continue reading

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Mindlessness: A Sonnet

I’m striving to be a little less present. You need the attention of our group. Your anxious eyes, urgent words convey a gripe; They sketch a threat you’re sure is prescient. But I’m counting syllables in my head, Selecting words … Continue reading

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