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: Revisiting the Past and Looking to the Future

February 14th, 2014
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The Conversation Thus Far

Over the past week, participants discussed specific strategies used to increase involvement by youth in their respective communities. Participants shared examples of efforts that are currently happening to increase youth civic engagement. A couple of examples included:

  • How to involve youth in deliberation. Participant Christian Lindke, who will be hosting a town hall event for youth to discuss legalization of Marijuana in California, described how he partners with local nonprofits to engage at-risk youth. He also said that teens are addressing or confronting the “question of privacy for public deliberation” in that Rachel Talbert, shared examples of how they (Close Up) use a simulation of Congress to engage youth in deliberation on bills currently being discussed in Congress.

  • Youth participation and leadership in city budget committees. Many examples of city initiatives that bring in the perspectives of young people were discussed (including examples in Cambridge, MA, Chicago and New York City). As Jonathan Rodrigues described, “The city [Boston] set aside $1 million in capital funds to be decided by the committee. The committee will suggest projects and youth in the city of Boston (and only youth) will vote in June/July for a variety of projects.” Samuel Ryan also described how youth “participated in Alderman Moore’s townhalls [in Chicago] on these issues and are seen as equals in this debate in the ward.”

To learn more about what was discussed, check out the live chat recording for week 3. We’ll catch you up on week 4 soon, but in the meantime, the recording for the live chat from week 4 is also available.

Revisiting Where We’ve Been

Over the last four weeks the seminar has explored the key elements of the All Together Now report.  Beginning with an exploration of the report’s goals, participant’s reflected on the balance between free expression and civil deliberation with the need for equity and equality of political engagement.  The group explored making room for youth to lead and improving access to higher education.

With the goals in mind, the seminar moved into a deeper exploration of the state of youth civic learning and engagement.  With a base of data on polarization, growing inequality of civic opportunities, the increasingly diverse youth population, and the role of social media, the conversation focused on creating safe spaces for conversation, strategies to support student deliberation and the need for continued professional development for teachers.  Several participants were interested in exploring further the way in which the report goals and civic learning are and can be linked to the Common Core and how the new shifted focus to practice and discussed the ways in which the five key strategies in the reportwere or were not being implemented in the field.  The conversation focused how to engage youth who do not traditionally gravitate toward civic-oriented opportunities. Non-formal educational environments and paid opportunities were discussed. Additionally, participants stressed the need to link K-12 to higher education to make the learning pathways more seamless.

Finally, last week the seminar turned to the report’s recommendations and in particular the need to stitch together efforts happening across sectors and support greater collaboration between concerned actors. We are just wrapping up this discussion, but hoping to hear from seminar participants what’s working – policies, teacher supports, innovations, collaborations – to address uneven access to civic opportunities.

A Reflective Exercise

During the live discussion session for week five, we would like participants to think about future actions or activities that could bring the strategies and recommendations into your own sphere or in collaboration with others. To inform that discussion, we’d like participants to reflect a bit on how they might act upon the recommendations in the report either to enhance what they are already doing or to initiate new work. This reflective exercise should take about 15-20 minutes.

Guiding Questions for Week 5:

  • What information, ideas or actions discussed during the seminar do you see being most productive or of highest priority for youth civic engagement?

  • What key insights, new ideas or information are you taking with you into your own youth civic engagement work?

  • In your view, what additional questions need answers or what research still needs to be done?

Join us for a LIVE video conversation on Friday, February 21st 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.

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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