Civic Forums

Discover the Issues

Held throughout the fall in New York City, Civic Forums provide a unique opportunity for Civic Fellows to learn from and connect with each other as well as with educators and political experts.  Civic Forums allow Civic Fellows to explore issues and engage in robust discussion.  Through an in-depth exploration of governance, policy and citizenship, Civic Fellows are exposed to varying perspectives.  Civic Fellows are encouraged to ask questions and are given the opportunity to engage in open discussions in a safe and non-judgmental arena.

Each forum focuses on a designated topic and features a knowledgeable speaker.  Students take leadership roles and facilitate topic-related discussions under the guidance of our Civic Mentors who are professional educators and Next Gen alumni.  All Civic Forums are live-streamed and Civic Fellows are able to engage through our social media channels.  Videos from all Civic Forums are available online therefore providing our audience with the ability to enhance its knowledge of civics, our political system and local, state and national issues.  Topics addressed have included voter rights, immigration, trade, the press and our system of checks and balances.

Explore our collection of resources relating to topics from our Civic Forums including videos, articles, links and exclusive session content.

Voting Rights

Voting is the heart of our democracy yet voting rights have always engendered voting fights. Civic Fellows delved into the context of voting today and discussed ideas for increasing voter access and engagement.


The United States is on the verge of changes to immigration law. Civic Fellows investigated different perspectives and explored issues surrounding immigration reform.

Press, Media and Social Media

The press is often called the fourth branch of government as it is the watchdog of the democratic process. Civic Fellows explored the role the press has in shaping public opinion, the responsibility of journalists and the challenges of our current age.

Civic Dilemmas in Infrastructure

Infrastructure refers to the system of public works of a country, state or region. While infrastructure refers to a physical state, it is formed by civic actions – choices and decisions about what to invest in, where and for whom. Our Fellows examined two of these persistent human problems—water and transportation—through “case studies” analyzing choices made historically and their implications for today.

Gentrification and Affordable Housing

Gentrification provokes considerable debate and controversy over how it affects neighborhoods and the people residing in them. The term is often used to describe neighborhood changes that are characterized by an influx of new residents of a higher socioeconomic status relative to incumbent residents, causing rising housing values–and rising costs. Our Fellows explored how we can strive to make neighborhoods safe and with desirable amenities without displacing long-term residents and businesses.

Freedom of Expression

Freedom of speech is one of our most fundamental rights as Americans, guaranteed in the First Amendment and held dear by liberals, conservatives, and libertarians. But this freedom has become fraught in America today. From college campuses to social media to sports fields to Presidential tweets, battles over the right to express ourselves are reaching a fever pitch given political polarization, racial tensions, and “identity politics.”  Our Fellows explored how this basic right should be interpreted in the context of our times–and whether the First Amendment’s speech clause needs a 21st-Century upgrade.