Tuesday, July 9th, 2013
A diverse panel of civic leaders gathered at this year’s Aspen Ideas Festival from June 26–July 2 to discuss the state of civic engagement in America. Moderated by Eric Liu, the founder of Citizen University, the “Reimagining Citizenship” panel discussed whether the spirit of citizenship was still alive in America, or if larger efforts were needed to reinvigorate civic engagement.
When asked what it means to be in a citizen in the US, the panelists offered their unique perspectives that all tied citizenship to a deep sense of community. Christina Jimenez, founding director of United We Dream, argued that citizenship “is about engagement. It’s about being part of the political process.” Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne Jr. defined citizenship as a union between rights and responsibilities:
It is a set of norms, of ethics, of values. . . It’s a way of being and showing up for one another. It’s also a set of privileges and immunities or a bundle of rights. But we don’t talk so much about how citizenship is also a bundle of responsibilities.
When asked how citizenship may continue to evolve in the future, Heather Smith, the president of Rock the Vote, suggested that young Americans will continue to use social media to rally around a cause and seek influence.