According to the dictionary, civics is “the branch of political science that deals with civic affairs and the rights and duties of citizens”—in short, it is about citizenship, a bunch of citizens in the same boat. Civics encompasses our connectedness as members first of local communities and then of larger political groupings, such as particular towns, states, and nations. Most of us are citizens by birth—not by virtue of turning 18, or 21, or of passing a citizenship test. It is our acts of belonging to associations, organizations, and movements that make up civic affairs. In our increasingly interconnected world, civic life can even take on global, cross-cultural aspects.
The organization Digital Media and Learning (DML) is pioneering a storytelling-based approach to civic engagement. Media Activism and Participatory Politics (MAPP) has partnered with DML to produce and promote a series of four webinars (meaning seminars held online) that will air in January. They will cover Finding Your Story, Making Your Story, Spreading Your Story, and Considering Your Story’s “Afterlife.” They are aimed at creating “a shared activity in which individuals and communities contribute to the telling, retelling, and remixing of narratives through various media channels.” In a video interview, Henry Jenkins, a media scholar and the principal investigator at MAPP, explains how storytelling is “a core skill” for civic engagement especially in the digital age.
Given all the potential platforms and diverse communication tools available today, the time has never been better for young people with a story to tell. “Participatory politics” involves both thought and action. It can be as simple as an experience or interest that propels us to connect with others—to try to solve a problem, or help meet a need, or express a heartfelt opinion. What begins small, when heightened and broadened by the speed and scope of digital media, can have a large impact.
Image credit: © Thomas Barwick/Iconica/Getty Images
- Storytelling and Digital-Age Civics with Media, Activism and Participatory Politics (MAPP) Project
Learn about the webinars in January 2014 around the topic of civic participation, storytelling, and the world of digital media; view the interview with Henry Jenkins, a professor with the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication.
(Source: Connected Learning; accessed January 3, 2014)
- DML Research Hub
Visit the website of Digital Media and Learning, the originator of the “Storytelling and Digital-Age Civics” webinars; includes videos, webinars, blogs, and more.
(Source: Digital Media and Learning; accessed January 3, 2014)