American Studies Summer Institute

Changemakers: Youth Activism from the Progressive Era to Today 

July 6-17, 2020 (weekdays)
8:30 AM to 12:30 PM

About the Summer Institute

Join us this summer for an intensive ten-day program of thought-provoking lectures and discussions led by distinguished scholars and practitioners. The American Studies Summer Institute, an annual program co-sponsored by the University of Massachusetts Boston American Studies Department and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, offers educators and graduate students the opportunity to explore in depth a rich topic with contemporary resonance drawn from American social, cultural and political history.

The 2020 Summer Institute

This year’s program, held at the Kennedy Library, will explore youth participation in US social movements from the late 19th century to the present and will focus on labor, anti-war, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, immigrant rights, environmentalism, and gun control campaigns. In this historical moment, when many young people are seeking to make their voices heard, access to stories of youth-led or youth-energized movements can have an empowering effect on young people, increasing their civic engagement.

The Institute will ask the following underlying questions:

  • What are the issues that have galvanized American youth to act?
  • How has their activism evolved from expressions of individual grievances to concerted actions?
  • What were and are the effects on young people and society of youth movements?
  • What were and are the social and civic outcomes of their campaigns?
  • How have adolescent activists navigated adult power and critics?
  • How have youth movements pioneered the use of new rhetorical and political strategies?
  • How have US youth movements linked with global youth movements, and why?
  • How has youth activism figured in cultural productions such as film, music, and literature? What cultural movements and narratives have young activists fashioned, appropriated, or rebutted in service to their goals?

Drawing upon experts from a variety of disciplines and with diverse perspectives, the Institute will be directed by Patricia A. Reeve, Chair and Associate Professor of History at Suffolk University, and Nina Tisch, Education Specialist at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

Graduate Credit or PDPs

Participants may earn three graduate credits in American Studies. Teachers may earn graduate credits or PDPs.

Registration and Cost

For those who wish to receive graduate credit, the fee for this grant-supported course is $495 plus a $10 records fee for non-matriculated students. For teachers taking the course for PDPs only, a non-credit option is available for $150.

The deadline for registration is May 22, 2020.

Download a PDF registration form

In the unlikely event that registration requests exceed the available capacity, preference will be given to graduate students enrolled in the UMass Boston American Studies Program and to middle and high school teachers.

For more information, please contact Nina Tisch at