Civic Engagement

Toward a Pedagogy of Repair and Care

Thursday, November 24, 2016 Comment sign of circle over bad word

Note: This is the introduction to a four-part mini-series that looks at a growing dissonance between the politics that we espouse in our classes and the realities that our students observe in their everyday practices. The impetus for this series emerges from the fact that while in class, the young scholars I work with struggle to engage with politics of care, life, and dignity. They experience in their digital zeitgeist an emerging culture of abrasive, brutal, and abusive language and behavior that negates their intellectual engagements. Beginning with setting up the context in this first post,


Watchworthy Wednesday: Letters for the 45th President

Wednesday, November 16, 2016 Comment topics of letters to the president from young people

Gun control, immigration, education, abortion and police brutality are among the top issues that young people care about and want President-elect Donald J. Trump to care about, too. As part of the Letters to the Next President 2.0 project, students, ranging in age from 13 to 18, from across the country wrote letters expressing their views on myriad issues. Nearly 12,000 letters were penned online. The following are  a few excerpts: “Gun violence across America has been getting progressively worse, and something needs to be done in attempt to resolve this crisis. Given the violent world we live


Watchworthy Wednesday: iCivics Game Delivers Lessons on U.S. Presidency

Wednesday, November 09, 2016 Comment screenshot of icivics game

As Donald Trump was declared president elect early this morning, the website iCivics debuted a new edition of Executive Command, an animated educational game aimed at teaching kids all about the role of the president. The game has players take on the role and select an agenda for the country. They learn what it takes to accomplish their goals while facing the challenges and responsibilities that appear along the way. “We don’t learn civics and how to be involved as a citizen, genetically. We have to learn it, every generation,” Justice Sandra Day O’Connor says in a


Watchworthy Wednesday: How to Make Digital Civic Change

Wednesday, November 02, 2016 Comment ypp

The Youth and Participatory Politics Research Network has debuted a new website, featuring its “Action Frame” — 10 questions designed to guide young people on how to make civic change in this digital age. From the website: Sixties activists insisted the personal is political. Change-makers in the digital age get that idea, and one-up it with another rallying cry: the political is social and cultural. Your platforms and digital strategies need to make this principle count, so that you, your peers, and your audiences engage each other, and the allies you all want, in high-quality, equitable,


Moving Past Civic Engagement To Civic Innovation

Thursday, October 27, 2016 Comment Nicole Mirra at DML2016

Every year, without fail, I leave the Digital Media and Learning Conference with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to my work. While I attribute some of this energy boost to the opportunity to connect with colleagues and share my research, I think its major source is the conference’s commitment to highlighting the power and responsibility of digital technologies to contribute to a more equitable and active civic life. Too often, when discourses about education and technology converge, conversations focus on the novelty-factor of particular tools in the classroom, opportunities for large-scale data collection, or


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