People who want to improve the world often encounter problems of collective action (how to get many individuals to act in concert), of discourse (how to talk and think productively about contentious matters), and of exclusion. To get things done, they must form or join and sustain functional groups, and through them, develop skills and virtues that help them to be effective and responsible civic actors.
Peter Levine, one of America’s leading scholars and practitioners of civic engagement, identifies the general challenges that confront people who ask the citizens’ question and explores solutions in his most recent book, What Should We Do? A Theory of Civic Life. Democracy Works host Chris Beem also thinks through these questions in his most recent book, The Seven Democratic Virtues: What You Can Do to Overcome Tribalism and Save Democracy. In this conversation, Levine and Beem discuss how their approaches differ and how individual and collective actions can’t be separated from each other when it comes to civic engagement.
Levine is the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs in Tufts University’s Jonathan Tisch College of Civic Life.
Find the full podcast and transcript here.