Citizens United |
Tape art from the Hampshire College Campus

Citizens United

July 17-28, 2017

More information about our summer 2018 programs will be available this fall.

This program will explore fundamental questions about how free speech and civic participation work according to current campaign finance laws. Using improvisation and role-play, together we’ll ask: Can we imagine money in politics differently?

The 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission overturned previous regulations on the time, place, and amount of corporate spending allowed in U.S. elections. The decision relies on three main arguments: corporations are persons with constitutional rights, money is speech, and corruption is only a problem when there is evidence of votes exchanged for money. The Citizens United decision, along with other related Supreme Court cases, opened a floodgate of corporate money, dark money, and super PACS in campaigns: More than an incredible $6.9 billion was spent during the 2016 election cycle. The vast majority of people in the U.S. disagree with the decision, and many support a constitutional amendment to overturn it.

Citizens United helps us examine our ambitions for what a democracy should be. What are the limits and possibilities to defining money as speech? Does the equal right of a person, human or corporate, to participate in public discourse lead to unequal influence in public opinion? What is meaningful speech?

This highly engaging program will be led by an artist and a curator. During our two weeks together, we’ll make sense of the text of the Supreme Court decision; meet with lawyers and activists who spend their time fighting the consequences of Citizens United; and test our own ideas on speech and campaign finance. Throughout the program we will also think of forms of visual representation of our ideas, through film or photography under the artist’s direction.

A significant part of this program involves body movement as language. Performance and contact with other bodies will be a part of the program as we explore questions and political positions together.

Students interested in studying complex systems, civic engagement and democracy studies, legal studies, and creative activism are welcome to apply.


Adelita Husni-Bey stages workshops that explore contemporary social topics with participants who collaborate critically in shaping the outcome. In her 10 years practicing as an artist and a pedagogue, Adelita has worked with activists, architects, jurists, schoolchildren, spoken word poets, students, and teachers to unpack the complexity of collectivity.

Jocelyn Edens is a curator and Hampshire alum. In the last few years she has curated projects on the impact of new technologies on habits of movement, the role of art in economic development, and re-imagining school cafeterias. Earlier in the summer she teaches in the Institute for Curatorial Practice at Hampshire.

Confirmed guests include:
John Bonifaz, co-founder and president of Free Speech for People
Aisha Naseem, campaign organizer at Represent.Us
lê thi diem thúy, novelist and poet
Congressman Jim McGovern, representing the 2nd District of Massachusetts

2017 Important Deadlines

April 14: Priority Deadline for all completed and submitted applications to receive a 10% tuition discount

May 1: Deposit Deadline* ($400 deposit must be received in order to secure your spot in the program)

May 15: May 26: Application Deadline (all application materials must be submitted)

June 1: Payment Deadline (all payments must be submitted)

*If you apply after the deposit deadline, your $400 deposit will be due once you are accepted to guarantee your spot in the program.

2017 Payment and Fees

Tuition: $2,000
Housing: $438
Meals: $420

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Hampshire College
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Amherst, MA 01002