Tufts has a reputation for shaping civic leaders who give back to the communities to which they belong, whether those communities are local, national, global, or virtual. Driven by the ideals of human rights and democratic participation, civic leaders take responsibility for addressing the most pressing challenges of our time and improving people's lives.
Tisch College of Civic Life
Many of Tufts University’s community engagement efforts are led by the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, which works to give students the knowledge, skills, and opportunities to solve problems and build a stronger society. Tisch College is a university-wide institution, and Tufts students can promote effective and active civic lives by participating in Tisch's various initiatives: courses, internships, service opportunities, leadership programs, community-based research, funding for independent projects, nonpartisan political engagement, and much more!
Civic Studies is an interdisciplinary field of study that focuses on critical reflection, ethical thinking, and action for social change, within and between societies. People who think and act together to improve society must address problems of collective action (how to get members to work together) and deliberation (how to reason together about contested values). Our unique academic major in Civic Studies gives students the chance to study the theoretical aspects of effecting change in the world, and to learn and apply the skills of civic engagement.
Tufts Civic Semester combines academic coursework with experiential learning to provide a transformational first-semester focused on community engagement and social justice. Civic Semester students join a small cohort of 10-12 peers to create a living and learning community which engages deeply with important social issues through Tufts coursework and by supporting and learning from local community organizations. In recent years, Civic Semester has run in the Southwestern US and Peru. With programming focused on building a civic identity and civic skills for promoting equity and justice, Civic Semester participants return to the Tufts campus with a deep friendships, a stronger sense of self, and a clearer understanding of how they want to have an impact during their time at Tufts and beyond. Program costs are covered by tuition and fees, and applicants to the program can utilize their Tufts financial aid package.
Tisch College’s summer internship program provides two-month fellowships in the public and nonprofit sectors that help Tufts students acquire invaluable professional skills and experience while working on an issue they care about. More than 100 fellowships are available in Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C., and Providence, Rhode Island—from arts and education nonprofits, to government agencies, and organizations focused on health and sustainability. With reflection sessions, skill-building workshops and other events built into the summer experience, students gain more than just an internship experience. All Tisch Summer Fellows receive a stipend so that they can enjoy these experiences regardless of financial circumstances, and they as well as receive mentorship and support from Tufts alumni and staff.
The Tisch Scholars is a unique three-year leadership development program that combines academic coursework, fieldwork in local communities, skill-building, and critical reflection. Scholars acquire the values, knowledge, and skills they need to address pressing social issues and effect meaningful change while building a supportive community to strengthen civic engagement at Tufts University and beyond. All students receive academic credit each semester they participate in the program, and eligible students can receive work study for their work in local communities.
A nonpartisan, student-led initiative housed at Tisch College, JumboVote seeks to make political learning and engagement an integral part of the Tufts experience, with a special focus on facilitating registration and voting in local, state, and national elections. JumboVote leaders and volunteers organize voter registration drives, issue forums, debate watch parties, poll worker trainings, and other opportunities for students to participate in the electoral process and to become more active and informed voters.
Tisch College houses the Tufts chapter of Jumpstart, a national early education organization that recruits and trains college students and community members to serve preschool children in low-income neighborhoods. Jumpstart's proven curriculum helps children develop the language and literacy skills they need to be ready for kindergarten, setting them on a path to close the achievement gap before it is too late.
Student organizations and individual students can apply for Tisch College funding to support their civic engagement projects, events, or research initiatives. Tisch College especially encourages students to apply for funding that will support projects related to racial justice. Funding will be considered for student groups and organizations, or individual students who plan to engage students and groups from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines in their work. Priority will be given to projects that also engage communities beyond the Tufts campus in a meaningful and ethical way.
The Tufts University Prison Initiative of the Tisch College of Civic Life (TUPIT) brings Tufts faculty and students together with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people, educators, organizers, corrections staff, and scholars of criminal justice to facilitate creative and collaborative responses to the problems of mass incarceration and racial injustice. Extending the vision of Tufts University and Tisch College, TUPIT is dedicated to providing transformative educational experiences that foster student, faculty, and community members’ capacities to become active citizens of change in the world.
Tisch College hosts university-wide events so that students can hear directly from a diverse group of civic leaders and changemakers, encouraging discussion on today’s most complex challenges and inspiring action. Through its Solomont Speaker Series and other forums, Tisch College has been privileged to welcome individuals like Congressman John Lewis, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Jane Goodall, Ana Navarro, Karl Rove, Stacey Abrams, Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Senator Tim Scott, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Vice President Al Gore, Tarana Burke, and many more.
Tisch College Affiliate Groups
Tisch College supports various student groups whose efforts contribute to the mission of improving civic life on campus and beyond. These include ACTION (Advancing Civic Thought in Our Nation), which aims to promote youth civic action and engagement in the greater Boston area; the Tisch Council for Philanthropic Leadership; JumboCode, which designs free apps and websites for charities and nonprofits; CIVIC, which promotes healthy political dialogue on campus; and Strong Women Strong Girls, which trains women at Tufts to mentor and empower girls in Tufts’ host communities. Tisch College also partners with the Leonard Carmichael Society, which serves as the umbrella organization for more than two dozen student community service groups that engage more than 1,000 Jumbo volunteers each year.