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civic engagement

New CIRCLE Report on Youth Political and Civic Engagement

Yesterday, the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE) presented a new report on educating America’s youth for civic and political participation at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

The report, “All Together Now: Collaboration and Innovation for Youth Engagement”, written by the Commission on Youth Voting and Civic Knowledge, a multidisciplinary group of scholars convened by CIRCLE. The purpose of this report is to inform Americans about deficiencies in youth civic knowledge and engagement.

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Civic Leaders Speak Out on the Need for Civic Education

With Constitution Day fast approaching, several civic leaders have taken the opportunity to critically analyze the state of American civic education and stress the need for reform. William H. Sieben, president of the American Board of Trial Advocates, and Sandra Day O’Connor, former Supreme Court Justice and creator of iCivics, both argue that improved civic education is critical to the future of our nation.

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Civic Engagement in the Digital Age

There is more to civic engagement than going to the polls every four years. Tom Spengler, writing for the Huffington Post, offers a more robust guide to civic engagement, relying on the power of the digital age to stay involved in your community.

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Remembering Jean Bethke Elshtain

Renowned political philosopher, ethicist, and professor Jean Bethke Elshtain passed away on Sunday at the age of 72. Elshtain was known for her deep commitment to civil society and advocacy of civic education.

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Civic Education in the 21st Century

The tools for improving civic education in the 21st century are constantly evolving. Holly Korbey, building off of Robert Pondiscio’s recent op-ed, suggests that innovative or novel techniques may be needed to overhaul civics education, apart from more intensive classroom instruction.

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Challenges for Civic Education

With reduced funding and plummeting exam scores, civic education is in a state of great turmoil. In an interview with Michael Shaughnessy of Education News, Robert Pondiscio outlines the problems facing a disengaged nation and suggests some solutions.

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New Study Links Civic Engagement with Income Mobility

In a post for CitizenshipFirst, Robert Pondiscio outlines the results of a nationwide study that analyzed the factors contributing to income mobility in the United States. In addition to geographic regions having vastly different rates of income mobility, the study found that communities that were more civically engaged were more likely to support income mobility.

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A Complete Civics Education Requires Student Engagement

At the Core Knowledge blog, Lisa Hansel reflects on the need to engage students in American democracy. Inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt’s 1930 speech, “Good Citizenship: The Purpose of an Education,” Hansel argues that civic education must not only help students understand the basic facts of history, but also reflect on the “duties of citizenship and on showing how leadership and governance work.”

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Reimagining Citizenship

A diverse panel of civic leaders gathered at this year’s Aspen Ideas Festival from June 26July 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.

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Liberal Education and Civic Engagement

In this weekend’s “Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson”, authors and Weekly Standard contributors Joseph Epstein and Andrew Ferguson discussed the value of a liberal arts education. Amid declining enrollment in typical liberal arts courses and slashed program budgets, Epstein and Ferguson explained the concrete benefits of the once-popular department. Without liberal arts education, American society may lose its aspirational character, Ferguson argues.

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Renewing Civil Society in America

Congrats are due to Peter Levine, director of CIRCLE and Program friend, who was recently appointed as the Lincoln-Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Service and as a research professor in the School of Arts & Sciences philosophy department at Tufts University. If that’s not enough, Peter also has a forthcoming book, We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: The Promise of Civic Renewal in America (Oxford University Press, September 2013).

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Technology and smarter citizenship

According to the Associated Press, the city of Los Angeles has just released a smartphone app that will allow citizens to communicate even more directly and efficiently with their government. The app will allow residents to report potholes, pay city bills, and look up dog parks—among other things—from their smart phones. “Instead of calling 311 to report problems,” the AP writes, “residents can use the app. They can even snap photos to accompany reports of potholes or graffiti.”

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The memeification of civic engagement

Writing at the Huffington Post, Rachel Tardiff worries that the decline in civic education in public schools has had very real effects on how citizens engage (or don’t engage) their government and advocate for change. Using the recent debate on social networking sites over gay marriage as an example, Tardiff notes that her Facebook feed became “a stream of red, with a huge swath of [her] friends changing their profile pictures” to the red equal sign to show their support for same sex marriage. Unfortunately, she writes, not many of her friends knew what else they could do to show support for their cause: “We’ve grown up in the political reality . . . where civic education courses are a luxury and a sense of civic duty is quaint. When all you feel you can do to further your views is to share a photo on Facebook . . . then it’s a short but hard fall from engagement to impotence.”

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Are Americans still bowling alone?

In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote of his visit to America that “Americans of all ages, all stations in life, and all types of dispositions are forever forming associations. . . . Nothing, in my view, deserves more attention than the intellectual and moral associations in America.” Writing 160 years after Tocqueville, the American political scientist Robert Putnam described in his book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community that Americans were becoming less likely to participate in these associations—that instead of joining bowling leagues, they were “bowling alone.” That was over ten years ago. How are Americans faring today?

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Millennials civic health index

Earlier this week, the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC), the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, and Mobilize.org released a joint report looking at millennials’ civic behavior. Focusing on Americans aged 18 to 29, the report finds that young Americans are civically engaged in a number of different ways, even if only half of them voted in the 2012 presidential election.

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Song of a Citizen

The “Song of a Citizen” project isn’t especially new, but it’s one we were unaware of until reading this post on citizenship and civic responsibility over at the Besette Pitney American Government and Politics blog.

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Volunteering rate reaches five-year high

According to the new “Volunteering and Civic Life in America” report issued yesterday by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC), Americans volunteered in 2011 at significantly higher levels than in 2010, with the national volunteer rate reaching a five-year high.

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What is civic engagement anyway?

Peter Levine, director of the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), raises the question at his blog about what we actually mean when we use the term “civic engagement.” “There is no single answer to this question, which is deeply contested,” he notes.

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The Warrior’s Heart

At the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) website, Alice Murphy interviews Eric Greitens, author of the recently-released book The Warrior’s Heart: Becoming a Man of Compassion and Courage. The book is an adaptation of Greiten’s previous book, The Heart and the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL, but is aimed specifically at younger readers in an attempt to equip them with the drive and resources to begin a life of volunteering and civic engagement even now as teens and young adults.

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Citizenship roundup

Here’s an end-of-the-week news roundup for things happening in the citizenship world you may have missed:

AEI