At a time of civic upheaval and moral debate, worldwide, we need forums for discussing how these issues affect democracy, young people, and their impact on education. What can, and should, educators be thinking about and doing? Increasingly these questions are moving center stage.

With the support from the U.S.-China Youth Education Solutions Foundation, the Civic and Moral Education Initiative (CMEI) at Harvard Graduate School of Education runs regular open colloquia. We invite both distinguished experts and upcoming young scholars and activists, in research, practice and policy, to present their work and to dialogue with others on current and often controversial topics. Our audience is broad; it includes students and faculty from local universities, practitioners, educators and activists.

CMEI has for nearly a decade been a regular and popular forum for lively discussion. Currently there are over 1400 members of the mailing list. CMEI events address a wide range of topics in civic participation and education and in moral development and education. Many of the CMEI events have been recorded and can be accessed.

We ask what civic engagement looks like among young people – it is much wider than voting – and what facilitates or inhibits young people’s participation. How might marginalized or deprived young people become more civically empowered? CMEI colloquia and dialogues have presented research on values and action, on institutional and community structures, descriptions and evaluations of educational programs and innovative projects, and the increasingly important role of social media.

What are current concerns in moral education and how do we educate for moral competence? How is ‘character’ fostered in and out of school? How can young people learn to manage controversial discussions and difficult moral and civic dilemmas? How do educators facilitate the development of socio-emotional skills, care and compassion?

HGSE has been a world center for moral education research and practice since the 1970s and we have expanded into civic education expertise, including the intersection of moral and civic development and education.

CMEI reflects the vibrant interest and activity in these important domains in the School. We have a lively group of doctoral students working in related areas.