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What Is Citizenship?

What’s happening in the citizenship world?

We’ve not had a roundup of news bits from the citizenship world in a while, so here are some recent items that we found interesting:

  • According to the Pew Research Center, youth engagement with politics is down, compared to this time in the 2008 presidential election cycle.
  • The good news, though, is in the “Power of the Ask”.
  • In September, the Library of Congress unveiled the new Congress.gov, to replace the old THOMAS database.
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The real problem with televised debates: The viewers

In his latest Time Ideas column, Eric Liu, author of The Gardens of Democracy, takes on what he sees as the real problem with televised presidential debates: us, the viewers. As tonight’s debate between President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney nears (it begins at 9:00 PM EST), Liu has some advice.


The Tocquevillean moment

In the current issue of The Wilson Quarterly, Wilfred McClay, SunTrust Chair of Excellence in Humanities at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, has an essay about “the Tocquevillean moment…and ours.” This moment, McClay writes, is “when social change arrives at a crossroads, and awaits further direction. [… It] involves the ways in which we come to terms, not only as individuals but also as citizens and societies, with whatever fatal circle our times and conditions have drawn around us.”


Active citizenship and the presidential race

Writing at The Huffington Post, Peter Levine, director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning (CIRCLE), makes the case for presidential candidates and political pundits to take citizenship seriously.


Bridging the civil-military divide on campus

Writing yesterday for the New York Times “At War” blog, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, a retired Marine and current student at Georgetown University, describes the challenges that many veterans face when leaving war for college, and encouraged them to “bridge the gap” with the other students they meet on campus.


Civics in an election year

The election season reminds us of the primacy of American self-government. As both candidates have noted, the choice between them ultimately lies with the American people, whose duty it is to inform themselves about the candidates’ different positions and policies, to deliberate upon them, and to cast their vote. Their decision will shape at least the next four years in American politics. Yet, as important as these responsibilities of citizenship are, they are too often neglected in our schools.


Are entitlements corrupting us?

Writing in The Wall Street Journal‘s “Saturday Essay,” AEI’s Nicholas Eberstadt raises the question of what will happen to the American character as the United States increasingly becomes “a nation of takers.”


Mid-week roundup

What’s happening in the citizenship world? Here’s our mid-week roundup:

  • World War II veteran Raymond Smith, age 92, finally received his high school diploma
  •  Last week, the United States military reached 2,000 dead in the Afghanistan conflict.
  •  In July, Gary Gutting, a professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, posed the question: Is patriotism moral?
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    Remembering Neil Armstrong

    Over the weekend, Neil Armstrong, the first human to step foot on the Moon, died at age 82. In reading remembrances of the astronaut, one theme that stands out through nearly all of them is how admired Armstrong was for his honest and good citizenship. Here are some excerpts from different accounts


    More on mandatory voting

    We’ve covered before some recent arguments for and against the idea of making voting in some way mandatory for American citizens. Joining the debate now is Eric Liu, author of The Gardens of Democracy, who wrote earlier this week in his Time Ideas column in favor of mandatory voting.


    Scared straight into the voting booth

    Over at The New York Times‘s “Campaign Stops” blog, Ann Beeson, a lecturer at the University of Texas and former legal director of the ACLU, notices that many young people are very involved in different civic organizations, but that few of them actually vote.


    Soldier for a day

    Instead of choosing to go to Disney World or another amusement park, a ten-year-old boy from Marquette, Michigan with Leukemia recently used his wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation to work with his local Army Reserve unit to perform community service. Talk about good citizenship! Read the inspiring story here.


    No such thing as global citizenship

    Eric Liu has an essay in The Atlantic in which he takes on the question of what “global citizenship” actually means. His answer? There isn’t such a thing as worldwide citizenship–and “if you really want to change the world, first be a good American.”


    Is liberal education civic education?

    Over at his “Rightly Understood” blog at Big Think, Peter Lawler, a professor of government at Berry College, takes a look at what a liberal education means for citizenship. Though his focus is on education in colleges and universities, his points  are equally applicable in understanding the civic aim of primary and secondary schools.


    Learning to be an American

    Over at National Review, Charles C. W. Cooke, a “British subject living in America,” takes a look at what it means to be an American. Expanding on Ronald Reagan’s famous quote that “you can go to live in Turkey but you can’t become a Turk. You can’t go to live in Japan and become Japanese. But…anyone from any corner of the world can come to America and be an American,” Cooke explores what it is–beyond having the right papers and simply being in America–that makes one an American.


    Olympic citizenship

    With the Olympic Games now in full swing, The New York Times has posed a great question about the role of citizenship and the Olympics: “Are we allowing too many athletes to game the citizenship requirement in order to play in the Olympics?”


    Government by the people? Not without civic education

    Writing earlier this week in the Christian Science Monitor, Scott Warren (Generation Citizen), Iris Chen (I Have a Dream Foundation), and Eric Schwarz (Citizen Schools) argue that neither President Obama nor presidential candidate Mitt Romney are focusing enough attention on the educational problem that poses the greatest threat to American democracy: the decline of civic education in our schools.


    Summer Institute of Civic Studies

    The fourth annual Summer Institute of Civic Studies at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service is in its second and final week, but it’s not too late to start following along with the class’s reading syllabus, here.


    Seeking civic education

    Writing in this morning’s Heartlander–the newspaper of the Heartland Institute–Ashley Bateman takes a look at the current state of civic education and what some organizations are doing to improve it.


    Calling for more self-government

    In his Time Ideas column this week, former Clinton speechwriter Eric Liu calls for citizens to take a more active  role in their self-governance. Liu argues that citizens must step up given our dire financial situation, and quotes former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich approvingly: “if we shrink government then we have to grow citizens.”