Civic Learning

Civic Learning & Engagement

Citizenship is changing. Younger generations are developing different political values and attitudes about their responsibilities in public life. Variously termed digital natives, millennials, and dotnets, many young citizens who have come of age in a globalized world of technology and networks prefer charting their own personalized political paths. These civic styles embrace consumer activism, loosely knit issue networks, community volunteerism, and participation in a growing global political scene through campaigns and social forums. While these are all positive civic activities, there is a tendency to look away from government for solutions to important concerns. They are also less likely to see good citizenship as centering on a duty to participate in government through activities such as voting. Yet, as illustrated by the vibrant participatory media engagement in the 2008 election, the gap between different models of citizenship can easily be bridged when government, elections, and media offer interactive opportunities that motivate and engage young people.

The challenge is to recognize changing citizenship styles, and to fashion educational and social experiences that help young citizens maintain their identities while bridging the gap with government, elections, and leaders. CCCE Director Lance Bennett provides an overview of these issues in "Civic Learning in Changing Democracies: Challenges for Citizenship and Civic Education."

Educators, policy makers, youth workers and youth technology developers can recognize these generational changes and use the potential of digital information technologies to provide a rich, interactive environments for civic learning. Some of the challenges and prospects for civic learning and engagement online can be found in the volume Civic Life Online, which is available in free chapter downloads from the M.I.T. press.

Highlights of our work include:

NSF Grant to Develop Technologies for Public Engagement and Deliberation

A grant from the National Science Foundation will help research methods to improve online communication forums. Read more ...

Engaged Youth: Civic Learning Online
The Civic Learning Online project addresses the question of how informal online environments can effectively engage the citizenship and learning styles of younger generations. Read more...

MacArthur Digital Media & Learning
CCCE is engaged in collaboration with the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Initiative. The MacArthur Initiative is a major effort to understand ways in which digital technologies are reshaping how and what young people learn. Read more...

Surdna Digital Youth Advocacy Skills

The Digital Youth Advocacy Skills program sponsored by the Surdna Foundation aims to develop, promote and distribute advocacy media skills and a networking platform through which to apply them. The first phase involves peer-development of digital advocacy and networking training modules via funding to Becoming Citizens, a University of Washington youth advocacy skills internship program sponsored by CCCE. Read more...

Becoming Citizens
Becoming Citizens is an internship program for University of Washington students who will help facilitate civic engagement projects in schools and community programs. Becoming Citizens aims to enhance and assess the capacities of classrooms and community organizations to build youth civic engagement and effective advocacy. Read more...

Puget Sound Off

Puget Sound Off is a training program and youth-driven website that provides Seattle-area youth with a forum for discussion, artistic expression, and action as a way to empower and encourage them to develop a strong public voice. The PSO site will include issue and group pages (for local youth organizations) containing blogging, polling, user content, creative user multimedia, calendar, jobs and group networking features. Read more...

Resources
In 2005, Jeannie Frantz, a CCCE undergraduate research fellow, put together a report on local civic resources and national centers of civic education activity in 2005. Read more...

Student Voices (2001-2006)
The Seattle Student Voices project was launched in 2001. Participants survey their community on salient issues and engage in debates on these issues within their classrooms. As they develop their public voices, students research their chosen issues and create policy proposals that address their concerns. The resulting ideas and findings are then presented to community leaders. Read more...

 

Center for Communication & Civic Engagement