Ellen Middaugh - Service & Activism in the Digital Age: Supporting Youth Engagement in Public Life

Experiential civic education has long tradition in the US, in and out of school time. How does the integration of new media support, extend, and/or transform these practices?

About The Speaker(s)

Ellen Middaugh is Research Director of the Mills College Civic Engagement Research Group. She recently led the Working Group on Service & Activism in the Digital Age. She is co-Principal Investigator for Educating for Democracy in the Digital Age, a 3-year partnership with the National Writing Project and Oakland Unified School District to create a high school model of Digital Civic Literacy Education.


Download the "Service and Activism in the Digital Age" white paper (PDF) Ellen will reference in this session

How to Participate

Download a PDF of this session's Livestream Chat archive


Questions Asked

  • (14:03) How does what we know about new media either support that practice [of service learning and youth-led organizing], change it, or potentially extend it?
  • (14:50) Are there new communities out there that people might be connecting to and engaging with (e.g. thinking about your gaming community or your fan community as a place where you're organizing your efforts)?
  • (16:30) How do we maintain healthy, productive communities when not everyone knows each other in the sort of physical, face-to-face way?
  • (19:38) Our challenge was to figure out how do we take geocaching, this gaming activity that takes youth out into the community and connects with other people through the web interfaces, and how do we make it a civic engagement process?
  • (23:05) One of the questions I was asked to think about is the availability of these new tools with new media and does the availability of digital tools solve or present problems?
  • (25:42) I'm interested in this question of the optimal role of new media as a vehicle for civic engagement.
  • (32:57) How do you work with teachers and districts to think creatively about filters, about how to connect cell phones?
  • (33:25) For these long-standing groups who are using digital media to support their practice, I think the question is how can they use it more effectively and more creatively to extend what they're doing?
  • (34:30) How do we bridge the service learning sector with the digital activist sector? The presumption of the question is that that's not necessarily happening right now. How would you get those groups together?
  • (45:43) Carrie, I don't know if you had thoughts on that: this issue of the quality of online community, what kids need, what youth need for support in that area?
  • (49:09) How do you build both civil, but also deep, meaningful, sustained community online when it's easy to dip in and out and maintain a casual connection?
  • (52:03) [There is] this notion that youth are disengaged from civic and politics, historically. Does digital media in that domain make kids more engaged? And then, secondarily, are they able to have an effect?

List of Hangout Participants