CCCE continues to expand its focus on how communication can facilitate citizenship and civic engagement. The scope of this year’s activities include: new research on the political impact of conventional journalism; investigations of how various digital information technologies facilitate citizen activism; the importance of the web in elections; and expanded initiatives to help young people connect with politics and government.
Here are some of the highlights:
The research scene has been busy this year. An international team led by Kirsten Foot is completing a comparative analysis of the role of the Web in national elections in 20 countries across Europe, Australasia, and North America. Results from the European cases will be appear soon in a special issue of the journal Information Polity. Findings from the whole project will be published in The Internet and National Elections: A Global Comparative Perspective, edited by Randolph Kluver, Kirsten Foot, Nicholas Jankowski, and Steven Schneider, forthcoming from Routledge. A team headed by Lance Bennett is nearing completion of a book project on the dependency of the press on government spin during the Iraq War. A new project has just been funded to enable collaborating with Belgian and Canadian scholars on ways in which citizen activists are using new information technologies to engage more effectively in politics.
Civic Education Initiatives
The Center continues to be a place where research intersects with the learning experience so that students can apply what they learn in the classroom in the world around them. We are pleased with the number of students who continue to respond to our concerns about the precarious involvement of young citizens in our democracy. An important program in this area is Student Voices, a civic education project in the Seattle Schools that operates with generous funding from the Norcliffe and Charlotte Martin foundations. We are also in the early stages of expanding our civic education mission into community programs for young people, particularly kids at risk. The most exciting development in this area is a new project designing University of Washington student service internships to help place trained students in classrooms and community centers to facilitate youth engagement with their communities. This effort is part of a campus wide civic engagement initiative in partnership with the Harvard Campaign for Civic Engagement, which supports sending our student leaders to Harvard twice a year to help coordinate this national effort.
CCCE Citizen Roundtable Lectures
Another exciting outreach program is our new CCCE Citizen Roundtable speaker series that draws top talent from the university to make presentations on timely topics to a growing group of interested community members and CCCE supporters. This year’s series includes lively discussions of the problem of press dependence on government, the impact of fundamentalist religion on contemporary politics, the privatization of public space, the transformation of US foreign policy, and privacy and the internet. This series reflects our continuing commitment to building bridges between the university and the community.
Online Collective Action Symposium
We are also pleased to co-sponsor a campus symposium on Social Movements and Online Collective Action (February 10) drawing talent from a number of departments on campus and as well as invited guests. Danyel Fisher, a researcher in Microsoft’s Community Technologies Group, will contribute insights based on his analyses of the ways that questions are answered, politics are discussed, and social support is given in online groups. Zack Exley, a political strategist with the DC-based communications firm OMP and director of the New Organizing Institute, a training program for online organizers in politics, will talk about lessons learned from his experiences as special projects director for the MoveOn PAC and director of online communications and organization for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign.
As many of these activities are outside the normal range of things that foundations fund, we are also spending a good bit of time and energy developing supporters for CCCE. The speaker series has been an important energy source in this effort. We are also grateful for the support of a number of individuals, local foundations (Norcliffe and Charlotte Martin), and the Microsoft Corporation. This support makes our public service programming possible, and enables us to employ talented students at CCCE, who have demonstrated amazing leadership skills.
CCCE continues to be a lively and interesting place thanks to the involvement of many students and the support of our faculty affiliates.