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.

the online world looks dark

(Chicago) I’m at the #ObamaSummit, much of which can be followed online. In the opening plenary, several speakers (including President Obama) noted the drawbacks of social media: psychological isolation, manipulation by powerful companies and governments, fake news, balkanization, and deep … Continue reading

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Kieran Setiya on midlife: reviving philosophy as a way of life

I read Kieran Setiya’s Midlife (Princeton, 2017) not only because I have that condition and am sometimes troubled by its complaints, but also because I appreciate the style of thought that Pierre Hadot named “philosophy as a way of life.” … Continue reading

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working on civic education in Ukraine

(Kyiv, Ukraine) I am here for just a few days, working with Ukrainian civic educators and my American colleagues at Street Law, Inc. I’ve served on Street Law’s board for more than a decade, but this is my first time … Continue reading

Posted in advocating civic education, democratic reform overseas, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

the Tisch College initiative on gerrymandering

Gerrymandering displays several features that are typical of 21st century problems. It’s a consequence of deliberate human action that’s not in the public good. It’s highly technical. If you possess the data, the methods, and the authority, you can draw … Continue reading

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Building Civic Capacity in an Era of Democratic Crisis by Hollie Russon-Gilman and K. Sabeel Rahman

About $3 billion was contributed to influence 2016 federal campaigns. In a new paper entitled “Building Civic Capacity in an Era of Democratic Crisis,” Hollie Russon-Gilman and K. Sabeel Rahman suggest a much better way to spend some of that money. I realize, … Continue reading

Posted in populism, revitalizing the left | 1 Comment

new research on “civic deserts”

(Washington, DC) My colleagues Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg and Felicia Sullivan coined the phrase “civic deserts” to name places where there are few or no opportunities to be active and constructive participants in civic life. The analogy is to “food deserts”–geographical communities … Continue reading

Posted in civic theory, Trump, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Comparative Effectiveness Research for democracy?

In health, we’ve seen an influential and valuable shift to Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER): measuring which of the available drugs or other interventions works best for specific purposes, in specific circumstances. Why not do the same for democracy? Why not test … Continue reading

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symposium on issues raised by Big Data

Data Intensive Studies Center (DISC) Fall Symposium Wednesday, November 8th 2017, 9AM – 5PM Breed Memorial Hall • 51 Winthrop Street • Medford, MA 02155 Keynote Presentations • Panel Discussions • Poster Sessions As Tufts seeks to develop a University-wide, interdisciplinary center dedicat­ed to … Continue reading

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what it means to view modernity as our basic condition

Let’s say that modernity has the following features, which tend to arise together fairly rapidly because they are causally linked. Their arrival is the process of modernization: Instead of using a small number of traditional tools to affect nature and … Continue reading

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changes in how we talk about cities

At a meeting at a community organization in Boston, we were using various terms to describe local issues and observing that those phrases would not be clear to the people we were talking about–especially new immigrants. That made me wonder … Continue reading

Posted in cities, Uncategorized | Leave a comment