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 Online: Learning How Digital Media Can Engage Youth. More recently, I was excited to learn about “Information, Imagination, and Action: Entry Points Into Participatory Politics,” an upcoming panel by researcher-practitioners at the 7th annual Digital Media and Learning Conference in October. Moderated by Nicole Mirra, panelists include Christina Evans, Ellen Middaugh, and Elisabeth Soep.
You could organize an entire day around the work the moderator and panelists have done to encourage and study the effectiveness of social media on youth civic engagement. Mirra, assistant professor of English education at the University of Texas at El Paso, has written extensively about critical pedagogy and youth civic education. Evans, associate research coordinator for the Civic Engagement Research Group at Mills College, has written about “the nuts and bolts of digital civic imagination,” and conducts qualitative research for the Educating for Democracy in the Digital Age initiative in Oakland. Middaugh, senior researcher with Civic Engagement Research Group, is assistant professor of child and adolescent development at San Jose State University. Middaugh has also published extensively and in 2014 co-edited a book, “#youthaction: Becoming Political in the Digital Age.” Soep is research director and senior producer at Youth Radio, a national youth-driven production company in Oakland. Soep, a member of the Youth Participatory Politics Research Network, wrote “Participatory Politics: Next-Generation Tactics to Remake Public Spheres.” You could base a syllabus on the work of these panelists, starting with the links in this paragraph.
In this short video, I talked with Evans and Middaugh about their forthcoming panel.
Banner image credit: USAG-Humphreys