The Learning of Liberty for Civic Life: Conference Hosted by Boston University and the Pioneer Institute

Contact: Erin Whipple, 617-358-1688 |

Boston – On May 8, Projects in Civic Engagement at Boston University’s School of Education and the Pioneer Institute will hold a conference dedicated to exploring how to prepare citizens, young people in particular, to embrace liberty and exercise it for the common good, both in the United States and in emerging democracies abroad. The event follows the recently issued 14th Biannual Youth Survey on Politics and Public Service by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, which reported significant deficiencies in civic education, as expressed by the respondents.

“With the upcoming election promising to bring thousands of young people into the political process, with a renewal of interest in civic engagement, and with a recognition that efforts to prepare young people to carry the mantle of civic engagement in the future are falling short, the issue of education for democracy in our own communities, states, and nation is extremely important,” said Dr. Charles White, Boston University School of Education professor and director of Projects in Civic Engagement. “If ever there was an opportunity to make major gains in preparation for civic engagement, this is the moment.”

Setting the historical and philosophical context for the discussion will be keynote speaker Gordon Wood. A Bancroft and Pulitzer Prize winning historian, Gordon Wood is one of the country’s leading scholars on the Founding Era. He is the author of several books including The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787, The Radicalism of the American Revolution and The Purpose of the Past: Reflections on the Uses of History, as well a Professor of History at Brown University.

“The Patrick Administration has been talking about ways to get citizens more engaged in their communities and in government,” said Jim Stergios, executive director of Pioneer Institute. “There is no one better equipped to speak on this topic than Gordon Wood.”

Gordon Wood will be introduced by Boston City Council President Maureen Feeney, key organizer of the recent Boston Civic Summit, held to encourage citizen engagement in the civic life of Boston’s diverse communities.

In examining education’s role in ensuring that democracy will endure, conference participants will learn about Projects in Civic Engagement, which seek to improve civic knowledge, skills and dispositions among young people. The projects are administered by the Center for Civic Education (CCE) with funding from the U.S. Department of Education by an act of Congress. Boston University’s School of Education is the institutional home for projects in Massachusetts including We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution, We the People: Project Citizen, Civitas International (Russia partnership), and Civics Mosaic (Eurasia).

Pioneer Institute is a non-partisan public policy think tank committed to keeping Massachusetts economically competitive and to strengthening the core values of an open society. To inspire market-driven policy reforms, Pioneer promotes individual freedom and responsibility and limited, accountable government. The Institute has changed the intellectual climate in Massachusetts by commissioning timely and rigorous academic studies from leading scholars. Pioneer injects new ideas into the public debate through forums and lectures, transcripts, the media, and outreach to legislators, business groups and the general public.

Established in 1918, Boston University’s School of Education serves a diverse student body of 400 undergraduate and 600 graduate students, 112 of whom are pursuing the doctoral degree. It has 52 full-time faculty, numerous adjunct faculty, and 40 staff. In addition to a significant focus on preparing education professionals, the school is regarded highly for programs in the fields of literacy, mathematics education, deaf studies, international educational development, special education and science education. It is further distinguished by its productive partnerships with local school districts, most notably in Chelsea and Boston.

Event Details
Date: Thursday, May 8, 2008
Time: 4:00 – 7:00 PM
Location: Boston University School of Management, 595 Commonwealth Avenue
Admission: Free
RSVP: James Fenton at 617-723-2277;
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