North Eastern Public Humanities Conference, April 26-7

Register here. Some events have limited space. Friday, April 26: UMass Boston Campus Center, Alumni Lounge (all day)

Friday, April 26: UMass Boston Campus Center, Alumni Lounge (all day)

9:00-9:30 Welcome, Coffee, Introductions

9:30-12:00 Pre-texts Workshop: Doris Sommer (Harvard)

Friday Afternoon: Discussion of NEH Grant/Boston Harbor Islands Boat Tour

12:00-1:30 Lunch: NEH Connections Grant: UMass Boston collaboration with Boston Harbor Islands National Park: UMass Boston team

1:30-4:00 Harbor Boat Tour, Thompson Island Visit

Friday Evening: Website Launch/Graduate Student Lightening Rounds/Dinner

4:15-5:45 Graduate Student Lightening Rounds

  • Yale: Sylvia Ryerson and Candace Borders
  • More Graduate Students TBA

6:00-6:30 Round-Up of NEPH Ways Forward/Burning Issues/In-Progress Work (discussion continued over dinner):

  • Geographic locale, collaborative network
  • Context/site-specific “models” approach
  • Methodologies/practice/skills

Approx. 6:30 Dinner

Saturday, April 27: UMass Boston Campus Center, Alumni Lounge (morning) Chinatown Pao Art Center/Tufts (afternoon)

Saturday Morning: NEPH Concurrent Sessions

9:00-9:10 Coffee, Introductions

9:10-10:00 Film, Social Justice, and Public Humanities

Dario Guerrero, ROCIO (Documentary Film): DACA Harvard student filmmaker, goes home to Mexico to care for mother, not allowed to return to US (sponsored by UNAM at UMassBoston)

10:00-11:00 Concurrent #1 OR #2: New Practices

Concurrent #1: Exhibitions and Museum Practice

  • Colin Fanning (Bard Graduate Center)

Concurrent #2: Digital Public Humanities

  • James McGrath (Brown)

11:00-12:00 Concurrent #3 OR #4: New Initiatives/Institutionalizations

Concurrent #3: Journal of the Public Humanities, Case Method for the Humanities

  • Jeffrey Wilson (Harvard): Journal of the Public Humanities
  • Doris Sommer (Harvard): Cases for Culture:

Concurrent #4: Grants: Institutionalizing New Models of the Public Humanities (Mellon Foundation Grants)

  • Cheryl Nixon, Betsy Klimasmith (UMass Boston): Humanities Hub
  • Stacy Hartman (CUNY): PublicsLab

12:00-1:30 Lunch

Presentation of new NEPH website: Micah Barrett (Yale)

Saturday Afternoon: Panel/Discussion of Chinatown Partnerships
1:30 Leave UMass Boston to travel to Chinatown via “T”: Pao Arts Center, One Greenway, Boston
2:30-4:30 Tisch College at Tufts and Boston’s Chinese Community: Two Conversations about Projects and Partnerships
2:30-2:40: Opening Remarks

2:40-3:30: The Impact of a Community Arts Center on Gentrification: an NEA-funded Project between the Pao Center and Tisch College

  • Peter Levine and Cynthia Woo3:30-4:30: Archives and Activism: Tisch’s Work with the Chinese Historical Society of New England
  • Susan Chinsen, Stephanie Fan, Diane O’Donoghue

4:30 Reception at Pao Art Center

Heroes and Villains at the 2019 Florida Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference!


Every era has heroes. Every society has villains. Every community must learn that sometimes heroes and villains can in fact be one and the same. Come to the 2019 FCSS Conference here in Orlando and explore this theme! And please consider submitting a proposal that aligns with our theme. Villains make a difference. But so do heroes. So can you, in our field!

The Florida Council for the Social Studies is accepting session proposals for the 2019 FCSS Conference at Florida Hotel and Conference Center in Orlando, Florida on October 18 – 20, 2019.

Submit your session proposal prior to June 1, 2019 –

· Presenters will be notified by July 15, 2019

· Presenters of accepted sessions must register by August 15, 2019 to confirm participation in the conference

Information about the FCSS conference can be found at:

Online registration is available at

Plan your stay!

The FCSS Conference hotel rate is $131 per night . The Florida Hotel and Conference Center $18.00 per day for amenities is waived. Reservations must be made prior to September 26, 2019.

We look forward to receiving your proposal,

The 2019 FCSS Conference Committee

how much of a theory of justice do activists need? (a dialogue)

Some students are on their way to occupy their university’s central administration building to demand a minimum wage of $17 for all employees. They are surprised to encounter the ghost of John Rawls (JR):

JR: I see your signs and determined faces and presume that you are engaged in an act of civil disobedience. What is your demand?

Students: Social justice!

JR: Hmm, what does that require?

Students: A living wage!

JR: Which is?

Students: $17/hour.

JR: Is that your ideal outcome? Does social justice entail that every employee be paid no less than $17? Every employee of this university? Every American? Everyone in the world? Is there a maximum just salary? For instance, does your college president make more than justice permits?

Students: Look, we don’t get to write the rules. We’re just trying to boost the take-home pay of some people in our community. We’d go higher if we thought it was realistic.

JR: Would you go higher if that required cuts in financial aid?

Students: We are just applying pressure for one aspect of social justice. Figuring out the right balance is not our job.

JR: OK, but you also have other jobs. For instance, voting. If you think $17/hour constitutes justice, you should vote for a moderate Democrat or perhaps a liberal Republican. If you want much more equity, you should join Democratic Socialists of America.

The ghost of Mohandas K. Gandhi [MHK] emerges, to the surprise of everyone except John Rawls, who is Gandhi’s roommate in Purgatory. (Everyone goes to Purgatory.)

MHK: Don’t let him to deter you with these questions about ultimate ends. None of us has sufficient knowledge, wisdom, or moral rectitude to know what social justice entails. Our job is to make ourselves the best agents of change that we can be.

You plan to put yourselves at some risk. That is good; as I’ve written, “a life of sacrifice is the pinnacle of art, and is full of true joy.” However, you will also impose some costs and inconvenience on the university, and your demand might not be right. Are you sure that you have purified your own motives?

Students: Well, we’ve acknowledged our positionality and checked our privilege.

MHK: Awkward terminology, but it sounds like what I’d advocate. Have you created a group that represents all, and do you live together truthfully?

Students: Could you clarify?

MHK: For me, the main issue was making sure that the movement for Indian swaraj (independence, in the spiritual as well as the political sense) incorporated Muslims, Harijans, women, and others, and that we related to each other appropriately. If we organized ourselves right, we were already making the world better. The political consequences were beyond our control. As Krishna teaches in the Baghavad Gita, “Motive should never be in the fruits of action.”

JR: I’m Kantian enough to agree that a good action is one that has the right motives, not one that turns out to make the world better. But surely you need a North Star, a sense of what the goal should be?

MHK: Only in the vaguest sense, because–again to quote myself–“man is not capable of knowing the absolute truth.”

JR: Well, I agree with that and would leave much to be decided in a just society by deliberating citizens and their elected representatives. But surely we can propose provisional theories of justice?

Students: Um, this is interesting and all, but we have got like a building to occupy?


See also: Gandhi on the primacy of means over ends; a real alternative to ideal theory in political philosophy; why study social justice?; Abe Lincoln the surveyor, or the essential role of strategy; and how to think about other people’s interests: Rawls, Buddhism, and empathy.

D&D Event Roundup and NCDD Tech Tuesday Next Week!

This week’s roundup features webinars from NCDD member orgs New Directions Collaborative, Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice, Living Room Conversations, MetroQuest, and National Civic League, as well as, from International Association of Facilitators and Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC). We are excited to offer our upcoming Tech Tuesday next week, April 23rd, where we will learn more about the participatory decision platform, Ethelo. Register ASAP to save your spot for this free call and learn more in the post below.

NCDD’s online D&D event roundup is a weekly compilation of the upcoming events happening in the digital world related to dialogue, deliberation, civic tech, engagement work, and more! Do you have a webinar or other digital event coming up that you’d like to share with the NCDD network? Please let us know in the comments section below or by emailing me at keiva[at]ncdd[dot]org, because we’d love to add it to the list!

Upcoming Online D&D Events: New Directions, Zehr Institute, LRC, MetroQuest, NCL, IAF, GPPAC, & NCDD April Tech Tuesday feat Ethelo

New Directions Collaborative webinar  – Working as an Ecosystem

Wednesday, April 17th
9 am Pacific, 12 pm Eastern

Activating the full potential within an organization, community, or network requires us to see how our work fits into a larger whole and how we can connect what are often fragmented “parts.” Some wisdom, collective strength, and innovative solutions can only be activated when we engage and connect all parts of an organization, community, or system.

After working with many collaborative initiatives and seeking out tools and processes, Beth Tener of New Directions Collaborative, has combined what she has learned in this introductory workshop to build skills in working as an ecosystem. In this workshop, you will learn: principles of how systems work, practical tools to help people “see the system” and make relationships visible, participatory processes for how to connect and cross-pollinate the work and wisdom of diverse perspectives, and how and why accessing and engaging marginalized voices is critical to this work.


Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice – Love and Living Soil – Restoring Justice for Land and Community

Wednesday, April 17th
1:30pm Pacific, 4:30pm Eastern
Guest: Jonathan McRay
Host: Johonna Turner

Restorative justice is a social movement, but it must also be an ecological one in order to answer its guiding questions: What are the needs of those harmed and those who harmed? What’s the process we can participate in to hold ourselves accountable and heal? What are the root causes of the harmful behavior in the community, and culture? What are the structures and relationships we desire? The truth is we cannot have restorative justice without restoring our relationship to land and water. However, this integration can’t be a messy mashup of mainstream environmentalism and social justice. Instead, we’re talking about power and sustenance, the ways we order our lives with nurturance or with exploitation. This is about what makes for healthy community: the ability to love, be loved, and be free from violence and waste – from hunger and landlessness to colonization and white supremacy – so we can meet our needs with a sustaining and nurturing power in which all creatures have enough.


International Association of Facilitators webinar – 2019 Facilitation Impact Awards

Wednesday, April 17th
2 pm Pacific, 5 pm Eastern

Join our webinar to explore any questions you have about how to prepare a submission. Our guest awardee is Tamara Eberle who has, with her clients, received 4 Platinum and 2 Gold Facilitation Impact Awards over the past 5 years. A great achievement Tamara! If you can’t join us feel free to send any questions you have for Tamara to A recording of the session will be available.


Living Room Conversations Training (free): The Nuts & Bolts of Living Room Conversations

Thursday, April 18th
1 pm Pacific, 4 pm Eastern

Join us for 60 minutes online to learn about Living Room Conversations. We’ll cover what a Living Room Conversation is, why we have them, and everything you need to know to get started hosting and/or participating in Living Room Conversations. This training is not required for participating in our conversations – we simply offer it for people who want to learn more about the Living Room Conversations practice.

Space is limited to 12 people so that we can offer a more interactive experience. Please only RSVP if you are 100% certain that you can attend. This training will take place using Zoom videoconferencing. A link to join the conversation will be sent to participants by the Wednesday before this training.


NCDD April Tech Tuesday featuring Ethelo

Tuesday, April 23rd
11 am Pacific, 2 pm Eastern

In this free one-hour webinar, we will be joined by John Richardson, founder and CEO of Ethelo, a participatory decision platform. John will give a quick overview of the software and walk through some real-world examples of how its been used by different clients to engage stakeholders in solving contentious, real-life problems. Ethelo is particularly helpful for stakeholder engagement and communications professionals in the government, business and nonprofit space who need to engage large groups of people on sensitive and challenging issues.


Living Room Conversations webinar – Status and Privilege

Tuesday, April 23rd
3:30 pm Pacific, 6:30 pm Eastern

We joke about “keeping up with the Joneses” — but there’s real competition in our society for status and the accompanying privilege. How do we decide what we most value that bestows this status? While our country seems to favor wealth, there are other forms of status and privilege. What privilege do each of us enjoy? And how does that correspond with our status? This conversation examines our own status and how we use our status in everyday life. From education to wealth to gender to race, let’s talk about what we have…and what we desire. Please see the conversation guide for this topic.


MetroQuest webinar – Public Engagement Jackpot | How Your Agency Can Win Big

Wednesday, April 24th
11 am Pacific | 12 pm Mountain | 1 pm Central | 2 pm Eastern (1 hour)
Educational Credit Available (APA AICP CM)
Complimentary (FREE)

The stakes are high in planning for regional growth in Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County. On April 24, Truckee Meadows RPA will reveal the winning strategy for online public engagement! You’ll see resident survey data in action, providing a clear path to the best regional plans. Jeremy Smith will share how TMRPA used public engagement to build broad public support for infill development in core areas to stop the sprawl. You’ll also hear how Lauren Knox used 53,290+ survey data points to inform their 20-year Truckee Meadows Regional Plan.


Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) webinar – Lessons Learned from 3 Decades of Peace Education Work

Wednesday, April 24th
12 am Pacific, 3 am Eastern

During this webinar, peace education expert Loreta Castro will present lessons she has learned over the course of her peace education work, including insights and suggestions that might be helpful to educators who are in similar contexts.


National Civic League AAC Promising Practices Webinar – Community Approaches to Inclusive Healthy Housing

Thursday, April 25th
9 am Pacific, 12 pm Eastern

Join the National Civic League to learn more about two organizations that are bringing healthy housing to their communities. Suzanne Mineck, President of the Mid Iowa Health Foundation and Emily Yu, Executive Director of BUILD Health Challenge will speak about Healthy Homes Des Moines and the BUILD Health Challenge. Leroy Moore, Sr. Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at the Tampa Housing Authority will join us to talk about project ENCORE!


Civics Renewal Network Announces Award Winner!

Recently, our friends at the Civics Renewal Network announced the finalists and winner of a 200,000 dollar Annenberg Institute for Civics grant. While we here at FJCC/LFI did not make the cut (but were honored being able to apply!), we are excited to see such success for the wonderful folks at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the US Senate. They do such excellent work, and we hope to have the opportunity to work with them again in the future. Check out the winner and the finalists below!

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate is the winner of the 2019 Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics Award. Its project, Civil Conversations, will create a community of practice of teachers leading conversations about current, and sometimes contentious, civic issues with their students as well as build a nationally scalable curriculum for broad dissemination. The project will be implemented in collaboration with Essential Partners, global leaders in dialogue and deliberation; the Multiplying Good Students in Action project, a national program that develops high school students into community leaders; and Dr. Karen Ross of the University of Massachusetts, who will design and conduct project evaluation.

The three finalists were:
Center on Representative Government: An extension of its successful Engaging Congress app with modules on the executive branch and judicial branch.
National Constitution Center: The Classroom Exchange project in which students engage with their peers across the country in a healthy, civil dialogue about current, relevant constitutional questions.
Youth Leadership Initiative: A relaunch of its popular A More Perfect Union campaign simulation.

And of course, be sure to check out the great resources (including ours!) curated and shared through the Civics Renewal Network! You won’t find a better and more diverse collection of civics education resources anywhere!


Notre-Dame is eminently restorable

I’m sure others have made this point or are typing it this minute, but I will pile on …

Notre-Dame de Paris is a stunning building but not a well-preserved medieval one. It has been through a lot, including the 18th-century removal of the original stained glass in the nave, the smashing of statuary and most of the remaining glass during the French Revolution, and a profound reconstruction that began in 1844. Some of the most famous features of the cathedral are the work of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, a Romantic-era restorer who was comfortable redesigning medieval buildings in ways that are now obvious to us. The gargoyles, the spire that collapsed yesterday, portions of the interior architecture, and much of the stained glass is by Viollet-le-Duc, not by anonymous craftsmen of the 12th and 13th centuries. Many other Gothic buildings are much better preserved.

John Ruskin wrote in 1849 (not specifically about Notre-Dame but about the general approach to restoration in his time):

Neither the public, nor those who are responsible for the maintenance of public monuments, understand the true meaning of ‘restoration’. It signifies the most complete destruction that an edifice can suffer; a destruction from which not a single vestige can be recovered; a destruction that comes from the false description of the thing destroyed. It is impossible, as impossible as it is to bring the dead back to life, to restore whatever might have been grand or beautiful in architecture….the enterprise is a lie from the beginning to the end.

Notre-Dame is not a “lie,” but it is to a large degree a legacy of the French Romantic period, as much a creation of Victor Hugo and Viollet-le-Duc as of the first builders in 1160-1260. It is part of the city that we know today, which was profoundly influenced by Georges-Eugène Haussmann (1809-1891), the flattener of ancient neighborhoods and planner of boulevards:

Old Paris is gone (no human heart

changes half so fast as a city’s face) …
There used to be a poultry market here,
and one cold morning … I saw

a swan that had broken out of its cage,
webbed feet clumsy on the cobblestones,
white feathers dragging through uneven ruts,
and obstinately pecking at the drains …

Paris changes … but in sadness like mine
nothing stirs—new buildings, old
neighbourhoods turn to allegory,

and memories weigh more than stone

From Richard Howard’s translation of Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal

It is not a criticism to place Notre-Dame in the 19th century. The years from 1848-1870 mark the apogee of a certain Parisian culture that is admirable and attractive. It was the age of boulevards and cafes, Seine embankments, and Impressionist cityscapes, all of which shape our view of Notre-Dame. The reason the history matters is that we can reconstruct late-19th-century buildings when they are well documented, as every stone of Notre-Dame is. In contrast, we would have neither the materials nor the craftsmanship to reconstruct the stained glass of the nearby Sainte-Chapelle if that were lost.

The fire is a tragedy; the crown jewel of 19th-century Paris will be badly damaged for some time. But in the long run, this will be a footnote.

See also: seeing Paris in chronological order; Paris from the moon; and Basilica of Notre-Dame, Montreal.

Welcome to the Newest NCDD Sponsoring Member: The Courageous Leadership Project

We are absolutely thrilled to welcome the Courageous Leadership Project to the Coalition as a Sponsoring Member! It is through the generous support of our members that we are able to thrive as a Coalition and work to serve you as best as possible. Huge thank you to Stephani Roy McCallum and the Courageous Leadership Project team for joining!

The Courageous Leadership Project helps people find their inner leader so they can have brave honest conversations and find solutions to the challenges they face in their lives, organizations, and communities. They offer several training opportunities to strengthen skills around having more challenging conversations and learning about the IAP2 Strategies for Public Opposition & Outrage in Public Participation.

The Courageous Leadership Project is generously offering fantastic discounts to NCDD members on their upcoming trainings, both in-person and online. There’s a special opportunity to enter to win free registration on their next month’s event, GATHER: 5 days of Brave, Honest Conversations ONLINE, happening May 13-17thWinners for this unique NCDD giveaway will be selected on Friday, April 19th, so make sure you enter ASAP!

We strongly encourage everyone to learn more the Courageous Leadership Project and these special opportunities in the post below, and explore their website here.

About The Courageous Leadership Project

At the Courageous Leadership Project we bring our expertise in leadership development, coaching and decades of experience in high stakes, high emotion engagement to create opportunities for better results. Stephani Roy McCallum is the Chief Storm Rider at the Courageous Leadership Project, where she harnesses the energy of conflict and high emotion and rides it to clearer skies.  Working around the globe we help leaders have brave, honest conversations™ about the challenges they face to find solutions – together.

Bravely leading is in you. You just need to find it. Build your skills & knowledge for Brave, Honest Conversations™ in your life, organization and community.

Upcoming Training Opportunities


Win one FREE registration to GATHER!

We’re thrilled to offer our membership the opportunity to win one FREE registration at GATHER: 5 days of Brave, Honest Conversations™ ONLINE May 13-17. Each day there will be a live webinar where Stephani Roy McCallum from the Courageous Leadership Project will walk through the day’s topic, what it is, why it matters and how to do it. You will get a chance to ask questions and get answers. At the end of each day you’ll have access to resources, exercises and additional work to dive deeper into brave, honest conversations. Click here to enter for this registration giveaway!

It takes courage and channeling a little #braveaf in your life to say yes to growing as a leader! If this sounds like an opportunity you’d be interested in, please click here to enter your name to WIN. Winner will be drawn on April 19 so don’t delay!

Watch this short video to learn more about GATHER. You can find information on the schedule, speakers, topics and more on our website.  Do you have questions? Check out our FAQs. Register here!

NCDD members receive $50 off. Use discount code NCDD50.


Brave, Honest Conversations: Bravely leading challenging conversations

April 17-18, 2019 – Whitehorse, YT, Canada
July 18-19, 2019 – Victoria, BC, Canada

Brave, Honest Conversations™ are a way of talking together, working together and living. When we show up with courage, compassion and integrity the possibilities are endless. The world needs more leaders who dare to make a lasting difference.

It’s time to build your leadership skills – to practice courage, compassion and responsibility for impact. When you build your capacity to lead others, groups and the world around you, you create the momentum for positive change and the opportunity to move from stuck to possible. Foundational to leading others is the ability to lead yourself, to practice courage, compassion and kindness for yourself, and to make choices that allow you to bring your best self to the world. Learn new ways of being and showing up in tough conversations, and also find some new tangible, practical tools to improve your work in the world. Register here!

NCDD members receive $100 off. Use discount code NCDD100.

IAP2 Strategies for Public Opposition & Outrage in Public Participation

May 27-28, 2019 – Calgary, AB, Canada
July 16-17, 2019 – Victoria, BC, Canada

This two-day training course combines the work of risk communication expert Dr. Peter Sandman with the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) core concepts for meaningful and effective public engagement.

Development of this course for IAP2 was led by Stephani Roy McCallum in 2009, and an update of course materials in 2017 reflects the current context of today’s charged, polarized environment. The workshop is practical, hands-on participatory mix of video, lecture, group exercises and decades of real-world experience in engaging the public in high stakes, high conflict situations. Register here!

NCDD members receive $100 off. Use discount code NCDD100. 

FREE WEBINAR: Brave, Honest Conversations™

Some conversations are hard to have. Fear and discomfort build in your body and you avoid and procrastinate or pretend everything is fine. Sometimes you rush in with urgency, wanting to smooth things over, fix them, and make them better. Sometimes you go to battle stations, positioning the conversation so you have a higher chance of being on the “winning” side.


Instead, it usually makes a hard conversation harder; more divided, polarized, and disconnected from others. The more people involved, the harder the conversation can be. I believe that brave, honest conversations are how we solve the problems we face in our world – together.

In this webinar, we will cover:

    • What is a Brave, Honest Conversation™? Why have one? What can change because of a brave, honest conversation?
    • How do you have one? What do you need to think about and do?
    • How do you prepare yourself for a brave, honest conversation?

Join us on one of the following 2019 dates: March 6, June 12, July 10, and August 21. All webinars are an hour and 15 minutes long and start at noon Eastern Time. Register here!

You can learn more about The Courageous Leadership Project at

Participatory Action Research as Civic Studies

Thanks to the fabulous Tisch College postdoc Margaret McGladrey, we are holding a symposium on “Participatory Action Research as Civic Studies” today at Tufts, with 15 speakers.

I’m planning to make a few remarks revolving around three “ideal types” or imaginary characters.

I won’t try to explain the whole chart here, but a few explanations might be useful.

The community actor could be a nonprofit leader, activist, or government official. The social scientist could be qualitative or quantitative, teaching in a university or working for an agency or even a research firm. And the “philosopher” need not be a professor of that academic discipline. She might be a scholar from a different field (e.g., theology, normative political theory, law, education) or someone working outside academia, for instance, as a writer or a clergyperson.

When I say that the social scientist “often studies categories,” I mean that her topic is often a set of examples that meet the same criteria: Dominican women, prenatal care programs, kids who are existing foster care. In contrast, a community actor is often concerned with a heterogeneous, multifaceted object like a school or a neighborhood.

When I say that the social scientist “acknowledges [her] own values but sees them as perhaps problematic,” I am thinking about the disclosures of bias and social position that are increasingly common in scholarly articles. Traditional conceptions of science understand it as a quest to understand the world independent of the observer. Social scientists know that observers have values, bias, and assumptions. That is because we are all human. But they regard those attributes of themselves as potential obstacles to understanding their objects of study. So they use techniques for reducing bias, and they disclose or acknowledge their values for the sake of the reader. In contrast, a civic actor typically asserts values as a matter of right, as things that she has. Often those assertions are tied to identities: “As a Pentecostal, I believe …” Finally, a philosopher is trained (if we are trained in anything), to ask whether any claim about values is the best one. We view values not as biases to disclose but as claims that require testing.

In the middle are some “citizens,” using that term in its moral (not legal) sense. They are people who feel responsible for their world: for changing it or preserving what is good about it. They need what each of the three ideal types offer, and they can’t distinguish sharply among these offerings. They need particular and general knowledge, information and good values.

I take it that movements like Participatory Action Research and Community Based Participatory Research attempt to bring together the Community Actor with the Social Scientist, either by reducing differences among these people or by making them into partners. Civic Studies, as we actually practice it so far, tends to combine the Social Scientist and the Philosopher, but really it should bring all three together.

Exploring the Impacts of Technology in Rewiring Democracy

As technology continues to grow at incredibly fast rates, those working to improve democratic practices are often left scrambling to keep up a with rapidly changing environment. NCDD member organization Public Agenda released the paper, Rewiring Democracy: Subconscious Technologies, Conscious Engagement, and the Future of Politics, a follow-up to the earlier-released Infogagment paper. Rewiring Democracy identifies several digital trends and each of their potential consequences on democracy. We encourage you to read the article below and find the original version on PA’s site here.

AI, Blockchain, VR, and the Complicated Future of Democracy

All kinds of changes, many of them driven by technology, affect how we live, work, vote, interact, and get information.

Too often, the people working to strengthen democracy have been caught flat-footed by the pace of new trends and innovations. All kinds of changes, many of them driven by technology, affect how we live, work, vote, interact, and get information. It’s always been difficult to understand the implications of trends in the moment, but it’s even harder today because knowledge is so vast and specialized with experts on each trend often isolated from one another, without an overarching map for everyone to see.

Rewiring Democracy: Subconscious Technologies, Conscious Engagement, and the Future of Politics is an attempt to anticipate how the next set of changes will affect democracy, map the intersections of different trends and inform how we should respond. It’s a sequel to the Infogagement report, published by Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement in 2014 and re-released with a new introduction, foreword, and commentaries in 2018. The original Infogagement described trends that later erupted into controversies over “fake news,” voter disenchantment with politics, and Facebook’s abuse of user privacy.

Like Infogagement, Rewiring Democracy is based on the assumption that transformative moments often happen when trends come together—when the wires of innovation cross. Think, for example, of how the combination of personal computers, credit cards, and the internet transformed how we shop, leading in turn to dramatic changes in fields like journalism, as newspapers lost the revenue that classified ads used to bring. Well known, slowly progressing changes like the rise in literacy rates or in economic inequality might interact with new developments like blockchain or the rapidly-growing capacities of artificial intelligence (AI).

There are great challenges and potential catastrophes at these intersections, but there can also be great benefits. The intent of the paper is to begin identifying how these trends present significant dangers, as well as opportunities, for democracy.

Many of these dangers and opportunities have to do with the interplay between two major forces. One is the growth of what we call “subconscious technologies,” driven by the new capacity of AI to make decisions and predictions, most of which are unknown to most of us, based on the 2.5 quintillion bytes of data we now generate every day. The other is the increasing determination among citizens to make their actions and opinions matter in public life, an impulse we are calling “conscious engagement.” These two forces are rampant, and the ways in which they conflict with or complement one another may be critical to the future of politics and democracy.

To explore these forces, we relied on expert interviews, conceptual mapping, and a broad-based systemic analysis to gauge the force of different trends, understand their potential implications, and show how they connect and build on one another. The experts we spoke with include:

  • Jaimie Boyd, Director of Open Government, Treasury Board Secretariat, Government of Canada
  • Peter Eckart, Data Across Sectors for Health, Illinois Public Health Institute
  • Allison Fine, author, Momentum: Igniting Social Change in the Connected Age
  • Nigel Jacob, Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, City of Boston
  • David Lazer, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Computer and Information Science, Northeastern University
  • Josh Lerner, Participatory Budgeting Project
  • Peter Levine, Academic Dean and Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Jonathan Tisch College of Civic Life, Tufts University
  • Abhi Nemani, Ethos Labs
  • Darrell West, Vice President and Director, Governance Studies, Brookings
  • Ethan Zuckerman, Director, Center for Civic Media, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

We also hope that this paper serves as an antidote for what seems to be the prevailing sentiment about the fate of democracy: deepening frustration and even resignation that our political system is ineffective and unpopular, without serious attention to how that system could be changed.

Collectively, there’s been a lot of hand-wringing about democracy, as if we were standing at the bedside of a slowly declining patient. We know frustration with American politics is higher than ever before. Trust in government and other public institutions has been ebbing for decades, and it has now reached unprecedented lows. Election after election, voters of both parties are attracted to “outsider” candidates who promise to “change the system.” The trends we describe in Rewiring Democracy bring with them tremendous implications, and they should prompt us to think more carefully about how people interact with institutions and with one another. They can help us decide how we might redesign democracy so that it fits the new expectations and capacities of citizens.

You can find the original version of this article on the Public Agenda blog at

A Conference for Science and Social Studies Teachers in North Florida!

Friends, this is always an enjoyable and educational conference that occurs just before the start to the new school year. Check it out! And if you aren’t in Bay District Schools or part of the Panhandle Area Educational Consortium, I am sure you would still be welcome!

A Science and Social Studies Mini Conference for Grades 6-12 Educators at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City


Save the Date:  Tuesday, July 30th

BDS Employees Register in AIMS Section #: 45917

PAEC District Employees Register in ePDC: Content Collaboration Conference

Conference At-a-Glance


  • Standards Based Resources & Pedagogy: MS/HS science & social studies content
  • STEM Academy: 6-12 teachers
  • Instructional Technology: Canvas for beginners to advanced
  • Digging into Social and Emotional Learning
  • ELL in the content classroom
  • Sessions by FLDOE and College Board




8:00am – 8:15am: Registration & Sign-In

8:30am – 9:45am: Session 1

9:45am – 10:00am: Break (Sponsored)


10:00am – 11:15am: Session 2

11:15am – 12:30pm: Lunch on Your Own

12:30pm – 1:45pm: Session 3

1:45pm – 2:00pm: Break (Sponsored)


2:00pm – 3:15pm: Session 4

3:15pm – 3:30pm: Closing &Evaluations