PARTICIPATING IN A CONNECTED WORLD:
EXPLORING CIVIC ISSUES, DISCOVERING CIVIC INTERESTS
Today’s rapidly changing and interconnected world offers new opportunities for youth to learn about civic and political issues in their communities and the world. Yet, youth may also feel overwhelmed by the array of civic issues that require attention. Gun control, opioid abuse, climate change, racism, LGBTQ rights, immigration, voting rights, and policing policy are just a few of the issues that can feel urgent, contested, and complicated to understand and/or address. How can youth be motivated to tune in to learn about civic issues unfolding locally, nationally, and around the world? How can they be inspired to pursue an interest in a particular issue and ultimately engage with others around it? How can they be supported to leverage offline and online resources to investigate an issue they care about, voice their ideas, engage in dialogue with others, and ultimately take action?
In this introductory module, we provide prompts and activities to invite youth to explore their face-to-face and online communities and to identify civic issues that are relevant, even urgent, to people in their local communities and in the wider world. As part of this, youth will examine how their digital lives reflect and shape their interests, and how digital tools can be used for civic purposes. The ultimate aim is to support youth to discover a civic issue that piques their curiosity and connects with their values and interests. In sum, in this module students will explore the following questions:
Who do you see as your face-to-face and online communities?
What civic issues do you hear people in your community talking about most?
What civic issue are you curious about that you’d like to understand better and get involved in?
what does being politically active mean to you?
This conversation starter invites students to listen to a KQED/Youth Radio commentary and to read a short article before discussing how the definitions of civics and politics are changing in the current moment.
(20 min) >
Who do you see as your
face-to-face and online communities?
The activities below are designed to support students to better understand their interests, their communities, and their digital or social media lives. These activities invite students to see how the people around them and their communities shape their perspective on social issues, the issues they care about, and the role of digital media in expressing those viewpoints.
What civic issues do you see people in your community face the most?
The activities below invite students to explore the social and civic issues that are of concern in their communities, identify issues they might want to learn more about, and consider how they might learn more and get involved.
What civic issues are you curious about that you'd like to understand better & get involved in?
This activity offers students the opportunity to identify a social or civic issue that they are interested in and that impacts their community. Students will be guided to consider what they can do next to learn more, engage in dialogue with others, voice their views, and take action around this issue.
This section asks students to loop back to the broad questions that they explored in this module as a way of reviewing what they covered related to civic participation in the digital age.
This section includes links to articles, blogs, videos, and further resources that informed the creation of this module and may be useful to educators who want to dig deeper.