About the conference

The 2020 Citizenship and Civic Leadership in America spring conference is dedicated to a discussion of the concept of citizenship: its origins, its meaning, and its contemporary place and relevance in American democracy and the global community.

The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership hosts an annual conference to invite scholars, prominent writers and speakers to come together each spring to discuss the school’s annual speaker series topic.

The 2020 Spring Conference welcomes keynote speakers: Rich Lowry, author of "The Case for Nationalism: How it Made Us Powerful, United, and Free" and Editor of the “National Review”, and Yascha Mounk, author of "The People vs. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is In Danger & How To Save It" and a Johns Hopkins Professor.

Lowry and Mounk will speak about the themes of American nationalism and the contemporary challenges to democracy in America and around the world. These fundamental questions will inform the discussion throughout the two-day conference as we explore the features of citizenship under the American Constitution, in practice in contemporary American democracy and within a global context. 

The conference panels will begin with the theoretical questions – what is a citizen? What are the characteristics, advantages, duties, and responsibilities of a citizen?  These fundamental questions will inform the discussion throughout the two-day conference as we explore the features of citizenship under the American Constitution and in practice in contemporary American democracy and within a global context. And, the conference will conclude with a consideration of the sort of civic education that is conducive to active citizenship and a renewal of American civic institutions.

Register now. 

The Spring 2020 Conference will take place over two days at Arizona State University's Tempe campus, which is just a short drive from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. To learn more about Arizona State University and how to get here, check out the conference's Visitor Information page. 

At a glance: 

What: Spring 2020 Conference: Citizenship and Civic Leadership in America 

Where: Memorial Union, Ventana Ballroom 241, 301 E. Orange Street, ASU Tempe Campus 

Dates:  Friday & Saturday, February 28-29, 2020

Times: 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; 8:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. 

Speaker Information

Learn more about all of this year's speakers, including our two keynote speakers, Rich Lowry and Yascha Mounk. 

Speaker Information

Still planning your trip?

Find out everything you need to know about coming to ASU and what to do when you're here.

Visitor Information 

February 28, 2020

8:30 - 9:30 A.M. | Breakfast and check in

9:30 - 10:45 A.M. | Keynote: "Nationalism and America" with Rich Lowry

It is one of our most honored cliches that America is an idea and not a nation. Lowry will discuss why this is false, and why America is indisputably a nation, and one that desperately needs to protect its interests, its borders, and its identity.

11:00 AM - 12:30 PM | Panel: What is a Citizen?

What does it mean to be a citizen? The claim of liberal political thought represented most directly by John Locke, is that the state is an association of individuals with natural rights who contract with one another to protect those rights to life, liberty, and property in a peaceful society. For Rousseau, the citizen in the ancient sense is no longer possible, and instead, we must look for standards in nature to form citizens of the world.  But for Aristotle, and for many of us today, citizenship is membership in a political community that entails duties and responsibilities and requires dedication to a common good that benefits the individual and the community as a whole.

Catherine Zuckert, Arizona State University | Susan Collins, Notre Dame | Michael Zuckert, Arizona State University | Clifford Orwin, University of Toronto

12:30 - 1:30 PM | Lunch Break

1:30 - 3:00 PM | Panel: American Citizenship and the Constitution: What the 14th Amendment teaches us

The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution states: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. This panel will address the questions: who is a citizen under the American Constitution?  What rights come from American citizenship?

Stefanie Lindquist, Arizona State University | Rogers M. Smith, University of Pennsylvania | Elizabeth Beaumont, UC Santa Cruz | Kurt Lash, University of Richmond School of Law

3:15 - 4:45 PM | Panel: Citizenship and Democracy

What is the office of the citizen in contemporary American democracy? This panel will consider the understanding of the citizen from the time of the Founding to the present.  How did the Founders understand the responsibilities and duties of the citizen in the new American Republic? What knowledge did they expect the citizen to have? What duties did they expect the citizen to perform? What was and is the role of active citizenship and public-spiritedness in American democracy?

Henry Olsen, Ethics and Public Policy Center | Susan McWilliams Barndt, Pomona College  | Greg Weiner, Assumption College | Colleen Sheehan, Villanova University

5:00 - 6:15 PM | Evening Keynote: "The Decline of Democracy Standing Up for Liberal, Democratic Values" with Yascha Mounk

To Yascha Mounk, we are facing a global crisis. Support for liberal democracy has fallen markedly across Western Europe and North America—and this development is especially stark in the U.S., and especially amongst its youth. Populist, authoritarian parties erode the checks and balances of the rule of law, the judiciary system and free press. They discard the rights of citizens and push more people out of the sphere of politics. And they ride waves of racial animosity, promising violence, or imprisonment, for those who resist. In this timely, necessary talk, Mounk outlines how these forces arise—and, vitally, what we can do to combat them. 

February 29, 2020

8:30 - 9:00 A.M. | Breakfast and check in

9:00 - 10:30 A.M. | Panel: American Citizenship in a Global Context: Rootedness and Globalism 

Contemporary discourse reflects a fundamental tension between, on the one hand,  a globalized ideal of citizenship based on universal human rights, according to which national borders only serve to limit human freedom or trade, and, on the other hand, a desire for local community based on civic participation, friendship, and a dedication to a common good-- In this "think globally, act locally" world, can there be a conception of citizenship informed by America's unique historical and philosophical situation that is somewhere between city and global power?

Christopher Caldwell, Claremont Institute | Shikha Dalmia, Reason Institute | Ann Ward, Baylor University | Henry Thomson, Arizona State University 

10:45- 12:15 P.M. | Panel: Citizenship and Identity

In a New York Times Op-Ed following the 2016 election, Mark Lilla calls for the end of “identity liberalism,” which, he argues, focuses on the issues that divide Americans -race, gender, and sexual identity- to the distorting exclusion of what Americans have in common.  Has identity politics divided Americans and distracted them from their commonality and from the shared dedication to the principles of the Declaration? 

Glenn Loury, Brown University | Lucia Martinez Valdivia, Reed College | Elizabeth Corey, Baylor University | Gail Heriot, University of San Diego School of Law

12:15 - 12:30 | Break for box lunches

12:30 - 1:45 PM | Panel: Civic Education and Renewal: Restoring American Civic Legitimacy

What is education for if not to prepare citizens for meaningful civic participation in the institutions of American government and society? How can we restore healthy civic participation and discussion to American democracy? What sort of education will the renewal of our civic institutions require?

Bill McClay, Oklahoma | Peter Levine, Tufts | Paul Carrese, The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership 

Download a PDF version of the Spring Conference schedule.