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Interesting Links by Matt Leighninger

Frontiers of Democracy 2015

The agenda for Frontiers of Democracy 2015 is rounding into shape, and the conference is filling up fast. To register, please use this form.  Frontiers is organized by the Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, the Democracy Imperative, and the Deliberative Democracy Consortium. This year’s “Short Takes” speakers are a diverse and fascinating group:

  • Harry Boyte leads the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg College. Boyte has been an architect of a “public work” approach to civic engagement and democracy promotion, a conceptual framework on citizenship that has gained world-wide recognition for its theoretical innovations and its practical effectiveness.
  • Hahrie Han teaches political science at Wellesley College. His two most recent books areHow Organizations Develop Activists: Civic Associations and Leadership in the 21st Century and Groundbreakers: How Obama’s 2.1 Million Activists Transformed Field Campaigns in America (co-authored with Elizabeth McKenna)
  • Diana E. Hess is Senior Vice President of the Spencer Foundation and Professor of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her most recent book, with Paula McAvoy, is The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education.
  • Caroline W. Lee teaches sociology at Lafayette College. Her most recent books include Do-it-Yourself Democracy, based on her ethnography of the public engagement industry, and Democratizing Inequalities, an edited volume with Ed Walker and Mike McQuarrie about the dramatic expansion of democratic practices in an era of stark economic inequalities.
  • Denise Merrill is Connecticut’s 73rd Secretary of the State. In that capacity, she has focused on modernizing Connecticut’s election process and making voting easier. She also co-chairs the State’s Civic Health Advisory Group, which is responsible for implementing action strategies identified in Connecticut’s 2012 Civic Health Report. She has a longstanding commitment to civic education and expanding democratic participation.
  • AbhiNemani is currently the first Chief Data Officer for the City of Los Angeles. Formerly, he helped build, launch, and run the national non-profit, Code for America.
  • AjumeWingo teaches philosophy at the University of Colorado Boulder. His last book is entitled Veil Politics in Liberal Democratic States, and he is collaborating with Michael Kruse on The Citizen,a book about how Africans can move beyond where their history has put them and begin to make their own future and secure their own political freedom.
  • Brenda Wright is Vice President of Legal Strategies at Demos.  She has led many progressive legal and policy initiatives on voting rights, campaign finance reform, redistricting, election administration and other democracy and electoral reform issues and is a nationally known expert in these areas.

Another diverse and fascinating set of people are leading this year’s learning exchange sessions, which are now listed on the Frontiers of Democracy site. They will take on a wide variety of topics, from civic media to community-police relationships to text messaging to equity in deliberation.

Public Participation for 21st Century Democracy from Tina Nabatchi and Matt Leighninger

Public Participation for 21st Century Democracy from Tina Nabatchi and Matt Leighninger

Finally, as way to build on the publication of Public Participation for 21st Century Democracy, a new book from Tina Nabatchi and Matt Leighninger, we’ll be conducting an unusual experiment: conference participants will collectively create a graphic novel that illustrates how civic infrastructure might look, how it could operate, and how it might be built. (We mean “graphic” as in a narrative with pictures; sorry, this isn’t the civic version of Fifty Shades of Grey!) Participants will form into teams; each team will be given a set of images – and be invited to contribute new images – that they will annotate and compile into their own “chapter” for the novel.

In all these ways, Frontiers will once again be pushing the boundaries of what a conference – and democracy – can be.

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