in search of common themes

As I shuttle among meetings this week, I am looking for common themes.

Tuesday: a gathering of the colleges and universities that have grants from Bringing Theory to Practice (BTtoP). That is a project that aims to enhance: (1) college students’ civic engagement, (2) their psychosocial well-being, and (3) their academic engagement and success. The project and its grantees investigate the empirical links among these three concerns while also trying to improve their own students’ educations.

Wednesday: a board meeting of AmericaSPEAKS, a nonprofit whose most famous product is the 21st Century Town Meeting, a deliberative session for thousands of citizens who are recruited to represent their community and who make collective decisions or recommendations. AmericaSPEAKS also offers other processes that reflect the values of deliberative democracy.

Thursday: an important staff meeting of my own organization, CIRCLE, which tries to enhance the quality, quantity, and equality of youth civic engagement in the United States by providing valuable and relevant research.

Thursday evening-Friday, the Knight Foundation’s Tech for Engagement Summit at MIT’s Media Lab, a gathering of people who develop, study, or promote digital tools for civic engagement.

not to mention …

Monday: a Memorial Day parade through our town, featuring my own kid, who, like her peers, is being raised to make music, learn the tools of success, and become a loyal member of both the local community and the Nation State whose flags and songs surrounded them. (A cynical reflection on the same event from two years ago, here)

What are the common themes? Psychological health requires engagement with other people. Individuals need supportive contexts to develop as citizens.

About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.
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