Syllabus of Introduction to Civic Studies, fall 2019

Fall 19 Civic Studies 0020-01 Intro to Civic Studies

Instructors: Peter Levine, Brian Schaffner. TA: Gene Corbin

Sept 4: Introduction

Introduction to the course and the instructors.

In class exercise: “The “Christmas Tree Crisis” at Sea-­?Tac Airport” (handout in class)

Sept 9: Problems of collective action

(In class, we will simulate a collective action problem.)

Sept 11: Elinor Ostrom’s solutions to the Tragedy of the Commons

Sept 16: Ostrom continued

Sept 18: Ostrom Continued

Sept 23: Social capital as part of the solution

Sept 25: Why do people voluntarily participate?

Sept 30: Discussing good ends and means

Reading assignment: the Harvard Pluralism Project’s case entitled A Call to Prayer (Links to an external site.).  In the discussion sessions this week, students will deliberate what the people of Hamtramck, MI should do. In the class session on Sept 30, additional discussion of deliberation (what it is, what it can accomplish, and what else is needed for good decision-making).

Oct 2: Habermas and Deliberative Democracy

Oct 7: Does deliberation work?

Oct 9: Other forms of discourse: 1) testimony and empathy

[Oct 14: vacation day]

Oct 15 (Tuesday): Other forms of discourse: 2) dissent

  • Tommie Shelby, “Impure Dissent” from Dark Ghettoes: Injustice, Dissent and Reform (2016)

Oct 16:  How can we design for deliberation?

Oct 21: Midterm in class

Oct 23: Exclusion and Identity

Oct 28: What happens when people experience diversity?

Oct 30 Guest lecture on political hobbyism (Eitan Hersch) 

Social Movements 

Nov 4: Identity and the Common Good

Nov 6: Social Movements 

(Nov 11: no class)

Nov 13: Community Organizing

Nov 18: Nonviolent Campaigns

Nov 20:  Gandhi 

Nov 25: Gandhi continued

  • Gandhi, Notes, May 22, 1924 – August 15, 1924, in The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (Electronic Book), New Delhi, Publications Division Government of India, 1999, 98 volumes, vol. 28, pp. 307-310

[Nov 27: no class]

Dec 2: Does nonviolence work? Does violence work?

Dec. 4: Student presentations in class

Dec 9: Student presentations in class

Dec 17: Final exam (3:30-5:30 in the Rabb Room)

Conceptual Outline of the Course
(click for more information)
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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.