Civil Society Initiative

The Civil Society Initiative is devoted to the theory and practice of responsible democratic citizenship

The Civil Society Initiative at Washington University in St. Louis promotes responsible democratic citizenship by supporting research, teaching, and public engagement, on the premise that constructive dialogue about political questions is essential for a flourishing democracy.  We aim both to understand the nature of responsible democratic citizenship by asking questions in political theory, social epistemology, and moral psychology and to put the principles of democratic deliberation into practice by creating spaces for disagreement and debate about timely moral and political issues. 

The Civil Society Initiative is a collaboration of the Departments of Philosophy and Political Science, and is supported by the Frick Initiative and the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy.

For more information, please contact Allan Hazlett.

Spring 2024 undergraduate course

Topics in Ethics: Civil Society is cross-listed in Philosophy, Political Science, and Legal Studies. In addition to learning strategies for studying controversial moral and political questions and methods for reasoning in the face of disagreement, students in this course will organize our Dinner & Dialogue series, which is designed to model reasoned disagreement and constructive debate.

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Spring 2024 Civil Society Brunch series

The Civil Society Brunch series will bring scholars to St. Louis to share their insights on the challenges of democratic citizenship with members of our community.


Spring 2024 Dinner & Dialogue series

Our Dinner & Dialogue series will bring speakers representing diverse perspectives on contemporary moral and political issues together for conversation and reflection.