Participatory Politics

Social Media and Public Sphere: The #VetaDilma Movement and Brazil’s Forests

Friday, May 25, 2012 Comment people filming interview in large art studio graffiti on the walls

Today Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff vetoed several parts of a controversial forest bill that had been approved by Brazil’s Congress and promoted by powerful agricultural interests. Until today, it was unclear how President Rousseff would decide and she did not opt for a full veto, which is what environmentalists had pushed for. But in recent weeks millions of Brazilians protested the bill, both online and offline. Given today’s actions by President Rousseff, this is a situation and outcome comparable to the online campaign mounted against the controversial SOPA legislation in the U.S. that was also backed


Basta! Telling Stories About Occupy Wall Street

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 Comment occupy wall street protest rally people marching holding up signs

Media activists Marisa Jahn and Julian Rubinstein recently joined us at the Center for Civic Media for our weekly Civic Media Lunch series. Marisa is the new director of the People’s Production House, a New York based project that works with low income workers and youth, building capacity around media creation. Julian is an author and journalist who now works on Newsmotion.org, a civic media and documentary storytelling initiative. Marisa walked us through some of her history as an activist and artist, showcasing some of her work as a graphic designer. For the 2008 Wall Street


#Occupy and Digital Media in Latin America: Observations

Monday, November 28, 2011 Comment hundreds of men and women sitting on the ground holding up cameras

Young people from many countries in Latin America have organized themselves and occupied public places just like their counterparts around the globe.  While some protesters are still camped, others are not.  In both instances, the spread of these ideas through digital media and social media has been impressive.  In Rio de Janeiro, a nonviolent occupation is happening in Cinelandia Square downtown.  More than 100 tents have been pitched and protesters have decorated them with placards opposing capitalism, consumerism and social inequality. The #OcupaRio movement has an ambitious agenda.  It is taking up specific local issues.  One


Role-Playing Racial History through Digital Games

Monday, November 07, 2011 Comment illustration drawing character game story of Jane role playing racial history

Teaching historical empathy through gaming is an important area in digital media and learning, but collaborations between university professors and game designers aren’t always easy.  Nonetheless, UC San Diego Theater and Dance Professor Emily Roxworthy, who leads a National Endowment for the Humanities funded project about Japanese American  internment camps in the American South during World War II that also used resources from the San Diego Supercomputing Center to bring the action to life, argues that the challenges are well worth the rewards. In the prototype level of Drama in the Delta that is currently available,


Media, Youth Activism & Participatory Politics: Case Studies in a Digital Age

Friday, November 04, 2011 Comment Education not deportation immigration reform rally protest women marching with signs

The growing use of digital media for social change is nourishing a dialogue about its impact on young people’s involvement in civic and political affairs. The Media Activism Participatory Politics (MAPP) project, an undertaking of the MacArthur Network on Youth and Participatory Politics (YPP), was created to further that conversation by examining youth-led organizations that encourage productive forms of participation in the public sphere. MAPP’s case study on the DREAM activist movement is the first of four case studies from Henry Jenkins’ Civic Paths project at the University of Southern California. The four projects examine exemplary


Learning, Freedom, Youth, and the Web: Brazil

Monday, October 10, 2011 Comment girl holding up camera phone in crowd taking a photo

Freedom of speech and social mobilization is new for many countries in Latin America. Most have had closed governments and dictatorships for the last 30 years. However, because of the spread of social media, political action, protests and activism have flourished. In Chile, for example, students have been leading protests demanding educational reform. Reports say more than 400,000 people have gathered in several of these marches. The protests, which have been drawing students to Plaza Italia in Santiago, have been organized with Twitter (for example, the umbrella march, when students protested under the rain and cold), Facebook


How does Digital Media impact Youth Political and Civic Engagement?

Thursday, May 26, 2011 Comment women with pink hair taking a photo on digital camera

There’s a lot of conversation about young people’s use of digital media and how it impacts their engagement — or lack of engagement — in civic affairs and politics, but not a great deal of empirical work has been done. Until now. Joseph Kahne is the chair of a newly-formed research network, Youth and Participatory Politics (YaPP), that is looking at the ways youth are using digital media and the Internet to engage in meaningful ways in civic affairs and social issues. I had an opportunity to talk with Kahne about his latest research findings and


What Should Civic Learning Look Like in an Age of Social and Technological Change?

Monday, April 25, 2011 Comment 2 kids working on computer together in classroom

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and her iCivics team recently convened a thought provoking conference, Educating for Democracy in the Digital Age. In partnership with the Aspen Institute, Georgetown Law, and the MacArthur Foundation the conference raised a number of questions regarding the state of civic education. Concerned about the declining state of civic education in American schools, Justice O’Connor assembled a team to create a digital platform, iCivics, for use in formal and informal learning environments. iCivics is a games-based platform and civic curriculum designed to meet students where they are—in the gaming


Is the Virtual World Good for the ‘Real’ One?

Thursday, March 10, 2011 Comment person sitting on the ground using flip phone

In a cartoon depicting the evolution of Good Samaritanism in the digital age, a man walks by a homeless person lying on the street and does nothing. In the next frame, he is at his computer — “What’s this?!! Sally needs a bag of fertilizer for her Farmville farm? I better get right on it!” Many are struck by the amount of time some people spend in online communities — and concerns have been raised that our attention to virtual communities may be distracting us from the tangible needs of those around us. Frankly, when it


Teaching, Texting, and Twittering with Obama

Monday, February 01, 2010 Comment screen shots of barack obama social media banners

With the first year of the Obama administration officially coming to a close, educators have been thinking about how the president’s online presence could be used for both civic education and media literacy purposes.  Obama came into office with the promise of delivering web-based participatory democracy or “Government 2.0” to citizens.  But I have found myself arguing that Obama’s “embrace” of online practices was actually quite limited, when it came to the messages he was promulgating.  I am also not alone in wondering if online commenting and voting really constitutes democratic engagement. Many educators have visited