On June 24, 2016, Danielle Allen and Chaebong Nam conducted a workshop for the 2016 Frontiers of Democracy Conference hosted by Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts. Twenty-two participants joined the session not only from the United States but from South Africa, China, and Thailand. The participants had diverse expertise and experiences that contributed to the depth and breadth of the discussion. Included were educators, platform designers/online tool builders, activists/organizers, and other professionals (psychiatrists, civic consultants, and more).
Participants formed smaller groups according to their chosen principle. They subsequently discussed their own interests behind this principle and selected a case as a group. Around each case, participants further explored a series of questions, including what issues or challenges are at stake, how they relate to their chosen principle, how they can cope with rising challenges, and how the YPP Action Frame helps to break through the process.
Assorted cases and issues were chosen. To name a few, one group from the MIT teacher education program picked a case on the topic of how to use games to make civic education morefun so that students become engaged and empowered (#1 Why does it matter?). The second group, comprised of high school teachers and a psychiatrist, pointed to the significance of transitioningfrom self to us, whether the context is political or not: The civic-political agency needs to be understood fundamentally in relationships with others and larger communities, but this awareness is not always easy to develop (#3 How do I make it about more than myself?)
Two other groups that focused on online deliberation discussed the potency and challenges of online space for deliberative capacity. Their issues involved, “Tweeting one line is better than tweeting nothing, yet how do we help people produce fruitful participations and how can we create better online discussion space?” (#7 How do you get wisdom from crowds? and #8 Does raising voices count as political action?) A group of civic engagement practitioners discussed the civic NGO’s intermediary roles and challenges in transforming scattered and individualized civic agents to networked power (#9 How do we get from voice to change?).
The goal of the workshop was to help participants connect the YPP Action Frame to their own academic and professional contexts. Many insightful questions and comments were raised in the session. Though they remain unanswered, these results enrich dissemination for us.
Some of the discussion products are displayed below. There was a dance performance as well ("How can I make it more than myself?"), which cannot be shared here, unfortunately.