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What’s New in the eCitizenship World? A Short List of Notable Organizations and Readings

By Cecilia M. Orphan, National Manager, American Democracy Project

The eCitizenship initiative was created to address these technological changes. The participating institutions are working together to study how emerging technologies, particularly social networking tools, support, transform, and shape citizenship behaviors. The primary goal of the initiative is to provide insights into and strategies for engaging undergraduates using social networking tools for civic purposes. Those strategies will then be broadly employed to prepare undergraduates for lives of engagement and participation.

In the last few weeks I have come across a few organizations and research studies that are of particular interest to the eCitizenship: New Tools, New Strategies, New Spaces initiative. I am sharing them as a way to provide inspiration and information to those within the initiative who are working to incorporate social networking tools into their on-campus civic engagement efforts. What follows is a short list of notable organizations and readings.

Organizations to be aware of…

1. Youth Participatory Politics

Youth and Participatory Politics (YPP) is an interdisciplinary group of scholars who will carry out extensive quantitative research and qualitative research in four interconnected research studies. YPP Network will examine:

  1. The ways new media may foster a new paradigm for participation in the public sphere.
  2. How frequently and how equitably youth engage in networked public participation.
  3. The relationship between online participatory practices and political participation.
  4. Ways to promote more frequent, more equitable, and higher quality political engagement via participation with new media.

YPP has become a clearinghouse for research on eCitizenship. Of particular interest to the eCitizenship participants are YPP’s current projects that study everything from Media Activism to the creation of ePublics. To read more about YPP, visit this website.

2. In Our Backyard (ioby)

ioby connects donors and volunteers to environmental projects in their neighborhoods to inspire new environmental knowledge and action in New York City. ioby stands for “in our backyards” and the belief that environmental knowledge, innovation, action, and service begin and thrive in our backyards. ioby.org provides tools and resources that complement the creativity and generosity of civil society to achieve a cleaner, healthier environment and more just communities. ioby environmental partnerships may begin online, but we hope they continue and grow, face-to-face, neighbor-to-neighbor, person-to-place, in our backyards. ioby is of particular interest to the Community Asset Mapping project within eCitizenship. To read more about this project, visit this website.

3.  Storify (beta)

Storify assists users by turning what people post on social media into compelling stories. Storify can be used to collect the best photos, video, tweets and more to publish them as simple, beautiful stories that can be embedded anywhere. To read more about this tool and find out how to use it, visit this website.

eCitizenship Reading List

1. New National Issues Forums Issue Book: “What Should Go on the Internet?”

The Internet has become an integral part of American life in the 21st century. But as its presence in our lives has grown, so have concerns about its dangers. It’s time to consider our priorities with regard to protecting privacy, preserving free speech, and ensuring security. Can we—or should we—regulate what goes on the Internet? Consider hosting an issue forum on campus about these important issues. This issue book is available for sale on the NIF website.

2. Pew Research Study: The Internet and Campaign 2010

Of real interest to our work in eCitizenship is the data that shows that many Americans (over half!) were online political users during the 2010 election. “Fully 73% of adult internet users (representing 54% of all U.S. adults) went online to get news or information about the 2010 midterm elections, or to get involved in the campaign in one way or another.” These research findings will help us think about how to engage students online in elections. To read the full study, visit this website.

3. Does the Internet make for more engaged citizens? The Answer is YES.

This recent MacArthur Foundation funded research study found that youth “who pursue their interests on the Internet are more likely to be engaged in civic and political issues. Youth who use the Internet are also more likely to be exposed to diverse political viewpoints.” This research study was conducted as part of the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning initiative. To read the full study, visit this website.

 

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