Youth and Participatory Politics: A New Agenda for Civics and Literacy

January 08, 2014
By Educator Innovator

New digital literacies have affected all areas of life, including the way that we practice politics and experience political life.  So it is no surprise that educators who focus on civic engagement and the civic mission of schools are looking at new ways to involve youth in community life through digital tools, and in productive and interesting ways their work crosses the traditional borders between civics and literacy education.

A central theme in this new thinking about both digital media and participatory politics is the way that youth—and all of us—can extend our voices into the public sphere through creating media and publishing on the web. Through public storytelling and circulation, all of us can be potential influencers in discussions about our communities and the issues we care about. But what are politically engaged young people learning about entering the public sphere through digital production? Now, a team who has been looking at Media, Activism, and Participatory Politics (MAPP) has pulled together a set of resources and perspectives to open a window into these new practices. In an upcoming webinar series beginning January 14, Storytelling and Digital-Age Civics, the MAPP project will explore storytelling as a practice that bridges cultural and civic/political engagement.

Educators with the MAPP project define storytelling as a shared activity in which individuals and communities contribute to the telling, retelling, and remixing of narratives through various media channels. To create these stories, youth make use of various media including theater, photography, blogs, books and videos. Organized around the lifecycle of a story, this webinar series will explore the affordances and challenges of digital media for civic action by bringing together civically active youth to discuss how political narratives are created, produced, spread, and recontextualized through “digital afterlife.” To encourage a fruitful discussion, organizers have invited people and groups who represent a broad range of perspectives and practices.