The Democracy Summit

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In search of understanding our complicated responsibility as citizens.

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Systemic forces within public life have converged to stress the norms and values necessary for sustaining the institutions of democracy across the globe. While the debate persists as to the future of global democracies, the Office of Civic life has launched The Democracy Summitt to examine the fundamentals that underline democratic societies. In the Crucible Moment, a national call to action to address civic learning and democratic education, the task force argues that “universities offer an intellectual and public commons where it is possible not only to theorize about what education for democratic citizenship might require in a diverse society, but also to rehearse that citizenship daily in the fertile, roiling context of pedagogic inquiry and hands-on experiences”. The Democracy Summit is a week-long opportunity to explore civic ideas, that transform our perspectives on individual and collective responsibilities for a sustainable, just, and equitable society.

Program Features

  • Civic Symposium: the symposium features workshops and presentations that address various aspects of democratic learning and engagement.
  • Civic Café: is a monthly dialogue and conversation series by scholars, educators, and community advocates to advance pillars of democracy and civic education.
  • Civic Discourse Workshop: Civic discourse is a facilitated conversation in which students tackle controversial problems that are not easily solved and weigh different approaches.
  • Civics in Action: is a skill building opportunity engaging students across various groups for the presentation of topics that address voter engagement, voter registration, local elections participation, voter suppression, and social justice and advocacy.

2023 Summit Details

October 23–28, 2023

Daniel Ziblatt headshote in circle with duotone blue background and 'How Democracies Die' text

Keynote Lecture


Date: Monday, October 23, 2023
Location: Spurlock Museum
Speaker: Dr. Daniel Ziblatt

  • 6:00 pm – Pre Event Book Signing
  • 6:30 pm – Lecture
  • 7:30 pm – Reception and Book Signing

Daniel Ziblatt is Eaton Professor of Government at Harvard University and is director of the Transformations of Democracy research unit at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center in Berlin, Germany. His three books include How Democracies Die, co-authored with Steve Levitsky, a New York Times best-seller. He is also the author of Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy, an account of Europe's historical democratization, which won the American Political Science Association's 2018 Woodrow Wilson Prize for the best book in government and international relations and American Sociological Association's 2018 Barrington Moore Prize.

Open to students, faculty, staff and public. Please register ahead of time.


Civics in Action, a Conversation with Alumni Jaylin McClinton


Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2023
Time: 6:00 pm
Location: University YMCA, Latzer Hall

Civics in Action will provide an opportunity to learn about how an education at the University of Illinois can be translated into a career in Civic Engagement post-graduation. The evening's speaker will be Alumni Jaylin McClinton. Jaylin D. McClinton ('16) is a graduate of the Department of Political Science at the University of Illinois. Since graduating, Jaylin has served in numerous roles, including Reuss Intern at the University of Illinois Foundation, White House Intern during the Obama Administration in the Office of Management & Administration, District Manager for then-State Representative Juliana Stratton, and Community Organizer with the Obama Foundation.

This event will be open to students, staff, faculty, and the public. Refreshments will be provided. Please register ahead of time.


Dining for Democracy: Community Justice, Education, and Reform


Date: Wednesday, October 25, 2023
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: University YMCA, Murphy Lounge & Gallery

Dining for Democracy is a nonpartisan, student-led workshop focused on different topics intended to build attendees’ knowledge about the issue and its connection to civic and democratic engagement. This event will feature a discussion about democracy as it relates to the judiciary…and free food!

This event is open to students, faculty, and staff. Refreshments will be provided. Please register ahead of time.

Facilitated by Volunteer Illini Projects (VIP)
VIP is a student-run organization committed to peace, unity, and change. VIP makes a positive impact through service, enriching students' educational experiences, and committing students to a lifetime of volunteerism. VIP has facilitated a decades long prison pen-pal program that serves as a connection between students and community justice.


Civic Café with Champaign County Clerk Aaron Ammons


Date: Thursday, October 26, 2023
Time: 2:00 pm
Location: University YMCA, Latzer Hall

Champaign County Clerk Aaron Ammons will be discussing his work as Clerk, the importance of voting, and opportunities available to all members of the community to get involved in supporting democracy in 2024 and beyond. Stop by for refreshments and an opportunity to chat with the Clerk!

This event is open to students, faculty, staff, and the public. Refreshments will be provided. Please register ahead of time.

Aaron Ammons was elected Champaign County Clerk in 2018. Prior to that he was an Urbana Alderman and co-founder of a grassroots organization, Champaign Urbana Citizens for Peace & Justice. Aaron worked at the University of Illinois for 17 years and served as President of SEIU 73 Chapter 119. He served as a Trustee for the State University Retirement System for 6 years and he is married to State Representative Carol Ammons (103rd District).


Civic Engagement 101: ALL IN for Democracy


Date: Thursday, October 26, 2023
Time: 6:00 pm
Location: University YMCA, Latzer Hall

Civic Engagement 101: ALL IN for Democracy is an introductory workshop designed to increase nonpartisan student civic learning and political engagement, with an emphasis on voter participation. This session will feature information on how to get involved on campus through campus student elections and off campus through volunteer positions like election judging. Participants will leave with new knowledge on how to run for election on campus and how to engage in the challenging work of supporting democracy.

This event is open to students. Please register ahead of time.

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Civic Symposium


Date: Friday, October 27, 2023
Time: 11:00 am-3:00 pm
Location: Levis Faculty Center, Room 210

Want to learn more about civic health, misinformation in a democracy, active citizenship and community engagement, and the role of the media and youth engagement in a functioning democracy? The Civic Symposium will feature presentations and panels that focus on these issues and more!

This event is open to students, faculty, staff, and the public. Refreshments will be provided.

This year's speakers include:

  • Quixada Moore-Vissing, Ph.D.: Quixada Moore-Vissing, Ph.D., is researcher about civic engagement and a practitioner of dialogue and deliberation. She is a specialist in civic health. Quixada wrote New Hampshire’s 2012 and 2020 State Civic Health Indexes and is currently partnering with Florida, Maine, and New Hampshire to write 2024 State Indexes. She was co-author of a toolkit called Local Civic Health: A Guide to Building Community and Bridging Divides. Quixada directs Public Engagement Partners, a civic engagement consulting firm, and works with clients including the Seattle Foundation’s Civic Commons on their Cities of Belonging program as well as UNICEF on their Child Friendly Cities Initiative. Quixada is proud to be an Illini and earned her Master’s in Communication at the University of Illinois in 2011, as well as her PhD in Education from University of New Hampshire.
  • Dr. Jimmeka Anderson: Dr. Jimmeka Anderson is a postdoctoral fellow at the Tufts University Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) focusing on projects related to media, youth, and democracy. Dr. Anderson received her Ph.D. from the Curriculum and Instruction-Urban Education program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and her master’s degree in educational media with a focus on New Media Literacies at Appalachian State University. Her research interest includes critical digital media literacies among historically marginalized youth, and she has immersed her professional development efforts in focusing on digital inequity in urban communities.
  • Dr. Molly Niesen: Dr. Molly C. Niesen is currently a Faculty Fellow at the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry and former Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Eastern Illinois University. She completed her Ph.D. in the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her doctoral thesis, “Crisis of Consumerism: Advertising, Activism, and the Battle over the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, 1969-1980,” won the National Communication Association’s Most Outstanding Dissertation Award for 2014, Critical Cultural Studies Division. Another paper on regulatory debates over children’s advertising was awarded the Brian Murphy Best Paper Award at the 2013 Union for Democratic Communications conference in San Francisco, CA.
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Controversies & Wicked Problems: A Civic Dialogue


Date: Saturday, October 28, 2023
Time: 11:00 am-2:00 pm
Location: Campus Instructional Facility Room 4031

Free Speech & The Inclusive Campus
Controversies and Wicked Problems: A Civic Dialogue is a workshop organized around exploring the use of deliberative dialogue to find where we can agree, learn from one another, and begin to focus on solutions to pressing civic issues. This session will focus on how the campus environment can become more welcoming of public debate and provide a safe space for diverse opinions. Participants will have the opportunity to build skills in:

  • Active Listening
  • Civility
  • Dissent
  • Consensus Building
  • Reasoning
  • Critical and Reflective Thinking

Participants will walk away with new skills and a broader understanding of the necessity of civic discourse in a democracy.

Open to students. Refreshments will be provided. Please register ahead of time.

To request disability-related accommodations for this event, please email