CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement)
conducts research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans.
The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

CIRCLE Online Seminar: Orientation & Introduction

January 13th, 2014
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Welcome to CIRCLE’s first foray into an online seminar.  We released All Together Now: Collaboration and Innovation for Youth Civic Engagement in October of last year.  Since that time, we have deepened and begun new conversations with a range of stakeholders about next steps to create better and more civic learning and engagement opportunities for all young people. This seminar is intended to provide the opportunity for various stakeholders (e.g. youth workers, researchers, educators) to discuss these issues together. (For those not yet registered, but interested, you will find more information here.)

For the first week of the seminar, we encourage you to read at least through page 24 of the All Together Now document. In addition, you can view the presentation below by CIRCLE’s Director, Peter Levine, and Deputy Director, Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg as they provide an overview to the general narrative and goals of the report. (Please note the video may take some time to load – you can also view here if the presentation below causes problems.)

During this first week, we would like to discuss the two fundamental goals the report suggests that we should strive for in working towards improving youth engagement:

1)     Free expression and civil deliberation

Young people need the space and encouragement to form and refine their own positions on political issues, even if their views happen to be controversial. Adults, schools, political officials, and youth themselves must adopt a generally tolerant and welcoming attitude toward this process of developing and expressing a political identity.

2)     Equity and quality of political engagement

The electorate should represent the people in the U.S. as a whole. However, low-income young people, people of color, and young people from recent immigrant backgrounds receive less effective civic education, both inside schools and in families and communities. Low-income and Latino youth participate at much lower rates. Meanwhile, Republican youth have been disproportionately disengaged in the past decade. Young women are less encouraged, and are less confident in their abilities, to seek leadership roles in public life.

Civic education is relevant to these gaps because, when done well, it can motivate and excite students to participate. Besides, political influence requires knowledge. Voting confers no power unless the voter understands issues, candidates, and political institutions at the local as well as state, national, and global levels. Thus the quality of engagement (in this case, defined in terms of knowledge) is closely related to equality; both are essential.

Guiding Questions for Week 1 (#civicyouth)

Thinking about these two overarching goals, as well as other elements in the All Together Now report, and using your own understanding and experience, consider these questions for discussion over the seminar’s first week:

  • In what ways do you agree and disagree with the fundamental goals for youth civic engagement (pp. 22-24) laid out in the report?
  • How do these goals compare to your organization’s, group’s or community’s goals for operating?
  • In what ways does your work forward and/or challenge these goals?
  • Is there another overarching goal that you believe (always or occasionally) trumps these goals for youth civic engagement?
  • What are the barriers or challenges to operating with the two goals named in the report?

Join us for a LIVE video conversation on Friday, January 24th from 2pm to 3pm ET.
Don’t worry if you can’t join us; we’ll record the session and share for later viewing and engagement.

There will be a logistics and testing out Adobe Connect on Friday, January 17th from 2pm to 3pm ET [link goes to recorded meeting]  for those who want to make sure they have everything working.

Additionally, share your thinking on the seminar’s Facebook group, in the comment area below, via Twitter (#civicyouth), or on your own blog or website (provide us with the link and use #civicyouth in the title or body).   You can always return to the seminar’s web portal to access all items related to the seminar.

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