Civic Engagement

Writing for Public Purpose

Monday, October 03, 2016 Comment class

This current back-to-school season is no doubt marked in tangible ways by a contentious presidential election cycle. I find myself wondering how much this indubitable backdrop will play a role in the learning that actually takes place in many classrooms. How much do the real world concerns of the day become an opportunity to help students become critical thinkers who learn to listen to others? Research and school time devoted to civic issues that engage student interest and ignite student passion can certainly represent powerful learning experiences. But, we often fall short of this opportunity in

Redesigning Civic Education for the Digital Age

Thursday, August 11, 2016 Comment teens using a tablet

“Ms. Tate asked the ninth graders in her social studies class in Oakland to choose a contemporary issue related to a social movement they had studied and to develop their own Taking Action Plan. One student used Facebook to show her peers that feminism is still relevant today. On her Facebook page, she circulated links to information and thought-provoking memes about the status of women in today’s society. Another student produced a music video about marriage equality that she circulated to her networks on YouTube in order to raise awareness about gay rights. The ease with

Anything but Beautiful and Maidenlike: The Online Civic Engagement of Brazilian Women

Monday, July 18, 2016 Comment Women protesting in Brazil

In 2010, we Brazilians elected our first female president. Dilma Rousseff was re-elected in 2014. Today, she awaits her impeachment trial by the Senate as Vice President Michel Temer assumes her duties. Since Temer took over as interim president in mid-May, he has made unpopular decisions that are impacting the way people react to his new government. During his first days in office, Temer eliminated nine ministries, including the Ministry of Culture. He also put an end to the Union General Control, the institution responsible for overseeing and making transparent the government’s public accounts. And, he replaced all of Rousseff’s

Connecting Digital Media to Civic Learning

Monday, July 04, 2016 Comment two men with headsets sitting and looking at multiple screens at broadcast work station

Since the printing press, communication media and citizen political engagement have been intertwined. Now that we have a global generation of young people who have printing presses, broadcasting stations, and organizing tools in their pockets, educators see ways to connect young people’s enthusiasm for Tumblr, Snapchat, YouTube with civic learning. I’ve been interested personally in the use of social media to encourage civic engagement among young people since the olden days of 2008, when I contributed a chapter on “Using Participatory Media and Public Voice to Encourage Civic Engagement” for an MIT Press volume: Civic Life

Dear Future President

Thursday, May 26, 2016 Comment three girls composing letter on ipad

As the candidates and the media concentrate on issues that matter to voters in this election season, how can young people engage and have a voice? Young people should have a say on the issues that matter to them, their communities, and our country. How can we support our youth to participate as productive and active citizens? This post is an invitation to support youth voice and civic participation through “Letters to the Next President,” an initiative that empowers young people to voice their opinions and ideas on issues that impact them. Join teachers and mentors

The Power of Debate as Form of Civic Communication

Thursday, May 19, 2016 Comment Empty podium on stage

In the popular imagination, debate is usually perceived in one of two ways — as a stuffy academic exercise (think policy wonks) or a raucous shouting match (think recent Republican presidential debates). Urban educators across the country are working to change these perceptions and re-cast debate as a creative and critical means for middle and high school students to develop and express their opinions about matters of social concern — in the process bolstering their academic, socio-emotional, and civic skills. I have been fortunate enough to be part of the New York City debate community for over a

How to Answer John Gardner’s Challenge

Monday, November 23, 2015 Comment inspirational quote by john w gardner about young people

John W. Gardner (1912-2001, no relation) was the most impressive public citizen of my time. Trained as a psychologist, president of the Carnegie Foundation at an early age, and a dedicated public servant who served as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare in the cabinet of President Lyndon Johnson, Gardner achieved his most important influence in the latter part of his life, as a private citizen. He launched and helped guide important initiatives like Common Cause, the Independent Sector, the White House Fellowship, and Encore; of equal importance, he served as a role model and mentor

Making Upstanders in Today’s World

Thursday, August 27, 2015 Comment group of young upstanders marching protesting for anti bullying rally

Oppression happens. So, what can students do? How can young people become upstanders (people who stand up for social justice and equality) in their communities? In the fourth of a four-part Connected Learning TV and Facing History and Ourselves webinar series, activists and educators tackled those questions. The webinar speakers — Mary Hendra, who leads the Los Angeles program team for Facing History and Ourselves; Jon Lego, who teaches at Animo Jackie Robinson High School in Los Angeles; Emily Weisberg, a program associate for Facing History and Ourselves; Andrew Slack, co-founder of the Harry Potter Alliance; Milton Reynolds, a senior program

Game Impact: New Report on Field Cohesion

Thursday, May 21, 2015 Comment different ages of kids using phone and ipad to learn and play games

After more than a decade, the field of social impact games may be mature enough to step back and investigate how “impact” is understood. To start the conversation, Games for Change has released a new report, published by ETC Press. (The report was co-authored by myself, Nicole Walden, Gerad O’Shea, Francesco Nasso, Giancarlo Mariutto and Asi Burak.  Our advisory group included game scholars and designers like Tracy Fullerton, Debra Lieberman and Constance Steinkuehler.) Right now may be an inflexion point in the evolution of games in the public interest — from civic learning to fighting asthma.

The Digital Imagination of Government

Thursday, April 30, 2015 Comment close up of usb port and computer chip

In the UK, the last year or so has seen a massive proliferation of interest in digital education right across the spectrum of the public, private and civil society sectors. Digital education has now become the focus for a cross-sector “network” of interests and concerns, and, as a result, is now becoming “governmentalized” as a seriously political business. The consequence of this network of interest is the production of a shared vision of the digital future of society that digital education is to play a part in making into an attainable reality. Digital Government Visions In