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News & Views from the
Center for Communication & Civic Engagement

Winter/Spring 2004

As I look back on 2003, many fond memories come to mind. ~ The historic launch of the first digital election Web archive at the Library of Congress, a CCCE project directed by Kirsten Foot. ~ Participating in a stimulating UW retreat in the Cascades to discuss the digital library as a model for integrating research and learning. ~ Watching the Student Voices project establish itself outside of CCCE as an independent program working with the Seattle schools under the direction of CCCE project manager Wendy Marker. ~ Assembling a team of students and faculty (with funding from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement) to study the 2002 and 2004 elections from the standpoint of youth voter engagement.~ Forming another team to study the design and implementation of the social technologies that are transforming politics from global protest networks to Howard Dean’s revolutionary election campaign. ~ Taking students on the road to give talks at Microsoft, and to interview people involved with electoral technology development at the E-voter conference in San Diego. ~ Receiving much-needed sponsorship from Microsoft for special projects involving technology and the community. ~ Rapidly mobilizing our resources to get a questionnaire in the field and join an 8-nation study of the global anti-war demonstrations last winter (thanks to support from the Communication Department). ~ Being energized by two Mary Gates Undergraduate Fellows and a great group of students who have joined various research projects to expand their learning experiences (thanks to the College for the help with keeping the learning-through-research program going). ~ Most of all, I continue to marvel at the energy of the students, faculty, and staff who make the prospects for the coming year equally exciting.

~ Lance Bennett, Director


Recent Developments

We Have a New Advisory Board

A dynamic group of faculty, staff and students have agreed to serve on the new CCCE advisory board.

New CCCE Associate Director Appointed

Dr. Kirsten Foot, Assistant Professor of Communication, has been appointed Associate Director of the CCCE. Dr. Foot will chair the advisory board and assist in planning, development and oversight of the CCCE. According to Dr. Foot, “The CCCE provides a unique environment for faculty, students, staff and community members to collaborate in scholarship on civic engagement. I am delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to its development in this way.”

New & Expanded Web Site

The CCCE Web site has a new look and improved navigation after a re-design by Paul Ford, Coordinator of the Instructional Resource Center in the Department of Communication. New sections on Democracy & Internet Technology and The Digital Election have also been added.

Students Talk at Microsoft and Attend E-politics Conference

CCCE has organized faculty-student teams to study various aspects of communication in the 2004 election. A large audience at Microsoft turned out to hear a talk by David Iozzi and Christine Lee (undergraduates, Communication), who joined Mike Xenos (Ph.D. candidate in Political Science, Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Concentration in Political Communication) and CCCE Director Lance Bennett in presenting an overview of digital technology and the prospects for youth engagement and expanded grass roots involvement in the 2004 presidential contest. Thanks to a Microsoft contribution to the CCCE discretionary fund, David Iozzi was able to attend the conference “Political Campaigns and the Use of Online Communication:Predictions for 2004,” sponsored by the E-voter Institute in December at UC San Diego. Iozzi talked about his Communication honors thesis on the Dean campaign with social technology developers such as Scott Heiferman, CEO of Meetup. David was also asked by E-Voter Institute President Karen Jagoda to join CCCE Director Lance Bennett in writing an article on the uses of communication technologies in the Dean campaign for the 2004 volume of the institute’s E-Voter series.


The Digital Election is Here

Project on Youth Engagement Web-Sphere Underway

With support from the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), CCCE director Lance Bennett and staffmember Mike Xenos (Ph.D. candidate in Political Science,), along with CCCE undergraduate fellows Christine Lee, David Iozzi and Theda Braddock, are currently working on a yearlong study of political and civic engagement resources available to young people on the Web, and links between these resources and political Web content aimed at wider audiences. Integrating Center research on declining levels of youth engagement and the emerging role of the Internet in American politics, the project seeks to document the prospects for greater civic engagement among younger citizens through Web-based political communication and mobilization. Click here to read about this project and others on the CIRCLE Website. CCCE is also pleased to be a founding partner of the national Youth04 initiative, which is aimed at engaging more young citizens in the election process.

The 2004 Campaign on the Web

Many of the campaigns for candidates running in the presidential primaries are producing multiple Web sites, each of which supports their Web presence in different ways. Dr. Kirsten Foot (CCCE Associate Director), Meghan Dougherty (CCCE graduate research assistant), and Meghan McLaughlin (CCCE undergraduate research assistant), are collaborating with Dr. Steve Schneider at the SUNY Institute of Technology on a study of presidential campaigns' use of the Web. Since March, 2003, they have been tracking the ways in which presidential campaigns engage in four practices of campaigning via the Web: informing, connecting, involving and mobilizing citizens. Although all the presidential campaigns use the Web for informing, they are doing so at different levels and through different types of information. Most of the presidential campaigns are currently employing about half of the potential features for connecting citizens with other political actors and involving them in supporting the campaign. A few of the campaigns are making extensive use of the Web's mobilizing capacities, enabling supporters to become direct advocates for the candidate. Visitors to the Political Web Info project site may use a feature grid that is updated monthly to compare presidential campaigns' Web practices and click on examples of features that support these practices from each campaign site.


CCCE Undergraduate Fellows Research

Digital Grassroots 2004 - David Iozzi

David Iozzi, who holds both CCCE and Mary Gates Undergraduate research fellowships, is writing his senior thesis on the use of the Internet by the 2004 presidential candidates. David’s research uses the online campaigning activity of presidential hopefuls to shed light on the question of how the Web can be used most effectively by political candidates. In particular, David is focusing on the emergence of “digital grassroots” campaign techniques most notably seen in the Howard Dean and Wesley Clark organizations. More broadly David’s project seeks to document the crystallization of new forms of networking and political mobilization, by analyzing complex linking structures between candidate Websites, personal Weblogs, and sites like MeetUp.com.

Youth Civic Engagement: Problems and Prospects - Christine Lee

Undergraduate research fellow Christine Lee is also writing her senior thesis at the CCCE this year. Christine’s research takes a sweeping look at the state of youth political engagement, identifying key problem areas, exploring the potential emergence of college students as pivotal actors in the upcoming presidential election, and documenting the most promising avenues for greater youth engagement in civic and political life through politically oriented youth portals on the Web. Christine has assembled a collection of literature and findings related to her research on her own Website, Frequency 2004.