Writing Our Civic Futures (October): Youth Voice and Participation

September 29, 2017
By Educator Innovator

Writing Our Civic Futures, our collaborative annotation project with Marginal Syllabus, is underway! October’s conversation examines youth voice and participation, and the tools and strategies young people are using to organize for social change.

Earlier this month we invited you to participate in Writing Our Civic Futures, a collaboration of the National Writing Project and Marginal Syllabus. Over the coming months, we’ll read, write, and engage in conversations with a range of educators, youth, scholars, media makers and journalists to think about the landscape of civic engagement and education. We invite you to refer to the syllabus and find readings that will go “live” on the first Monday of each month. Live links in the syllabus will lead you to a range of annotatable texts; you will also find information there about related events and conversations hosted by CLTV and others.

Let’s Dig In! This Month’s Topic: Youth Voice and Participation

This October we are focusing on youth voice and participation; how young people are using a range of practices and tools to engage in social movements and rally for social change across contexts and political structures.

We invite you to read Henry Jenkins’ recent blog post for DML Central called, “How Young Activists Deploy Digital Tools for Social Change,” and to consider and share your own thoughts and experiences regarding youth engagement and activism as you read and annotate. Here are a few questions you might explore along the way:

  • Do you believe that networked youth can change the world?
  • What modes of engagement, online and off, are young people harnessing toward social and political change?
  • How does youth cultural engagement connect to political participation; how and where do shared interests, popular culture, and fan communities fit in?
  • What are the negative outcomes/dangers of organizing online or via these new practices/mechanisms?
  • What roles can educators play to support youth in finding/sharing their voices? To be agents of change?

In preparation for a keynote conversation with activist/blogger Esra’a Al-Shafei at the 2017 Digital Media and Learning Conference (Oct 4-6, University of California, Irvine), Jenkins urges educators, scholars, and activists to explore what we can learn by “looking at the process by which young people, working in different political and cultural contexts around the world, are being introduced into social movements through their cultural participation, the ways they are finding their voice and learning to spread their messages, the ways they are organizing and rallying for change.”

Access the full text to the blog via Educator Innovator. Using this link will enable you to view annotations (yellow highlights indicate annotations; the annotation tool displays along right side of your browser) others have added to the text.

The Conversation

As you read “How Young Activists Deploy Digital Tools for Social Change,” we encourage you to read through annotations that others have added as well as add your own. Annotations are being added via the web annotation platform Hypothes.is. To add your thoughts, as well as to respond to others, sign up for your free account.

For more support, see this annotation tutorial from Marginal Syllabus or this overview of Hypothes.is from KQED Teach.

Share your annotations as you read or any time throughout the week. While we encourage your participation in the week-long annotation of each text, the readings will remain online for annotation and discussion. We also encourage you to use these readings and the opportunity to annotate however it best works for you—organize a study group, bring a class you are teaching, engage as an individual, or connect it to a meeting.

Additional Resources

If you’re left wanting to read, watch, or discuss further after annotating this blog, there are several additional resources you can tap into this month.

  • Henry Jenkins and Esra’a Al-Shafei will be continuing this conversation in a keynote talk at DML 2017 on Friday October 6th at 11:00 am PST. Media scholar danah boyd will also be giving a keynote at the conference, on Thursday October 5th at 9:00 am PST, where she’ll address some of the negative aspects of networked media engagement. We encourage you to watch the livestreams of these events at the DML 2017 conference website.
  • Henry Jenkins and danah boyd also discuss these topics, along with Mimi Ito, in their book, Participatory Culture in a Networked Era. You can find a short excerpt from the book at Educator Innovator which takes up the theme of youth engagement (Polity Press, 2016; used with permission). We encourage you to annotate this excerpt as well.
  • For more on activist Esra’a Al-Shafei, listen to this interview on NPR’s TED Radio Hour.
  • Refer to this introductory blog post for Writing Our Civic Futures across the course of the year for even more information.