The Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) fosters community university partnerships that aim to promote the principles and practices of civic engagement and democracy.

Frontiers of Democracy 2013

Frontiers of Democracy 2013: Innovations in Civic Practice, Theory and Education Conference

In July Christine FitzGerald, a PhD student at NUIG, attended the ‘Frontiers of Democracy 2013: Innovations in Civic Practice, Theory and Education Conference' held at Tufts University, Boston. Christine is currently in the final year of a PhD in Social Marketing and Social Gerontology at NUIG, the origins of which developed from the Community Knowledge Initiative. Her collaborative doctoral study resonates with the CKI's ethos of information and knowledge sharing between universities and the community.

The renowned annual Frontiers of Democracy conference looks at issues such as public engagement, civic learning, building social capital and strengthening democracy. This year, the conference theme focused on exploring perspectives that both support and promote civic vitality. The structure of the Conference focused on the need for and development of a Civic Studies Academic Groups as well as an academic Journal for Civic Studies. The issue of greater clarification of key terms and definitions was also a central topic of debate, highlighting the need for further collaboration and inter-disciplinary work around themes such as "citizens" and "co-creation". The Conference Round Table discussions centred on discussing different approaches to academic planning and practice, with different participants providing examples of this from the US, again with the theme of greater collaboration and information sharing needed to progress this further.

Overall, the themes of the Conference reflected the work of NUIG's Community Knowledge Initiative; which aims to promote greater civic engagement through core academic activities, namely teaching, research and service at the levels of students, staff, courses, programmes and the institution as a whole.

Through attending the Frontiers of Democracy Conference, it presented Christine with the opportunity to hear and discuss about different and innovative approaches and examples of civic engagement, both from academic and practical perspectives. From a personal development perspective, attending the Frontiers of Democracy Conference further equipped Christine's critical thinking skills, based on interactions with key academics and practitioners in the area of Civic Studies. It was also very useful from a networking perspective, where new contacts in this area were gained, who held strong research interests in the Irish context.

Christine FitzGerald would like to kindly acknowledge and sincerely thank the Community Knowledge Initiative and the Marketing Department of NUI Galway for supporting her to attend this event.

Christine FitzGerald
PhD Student

Marketing and Social Gerontology Departments
National University of Ireland, Galway
E-mail: c.fitzgerald1@nuigalway.ie