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Exploring the intersection of civic engagement and civil discourse.

Exploring the intersection of civic engagement and civil discourse.
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Exploring the intersection of civic engagement and civil discourse.




The Three Dimensions of Freedom: Billy Bragg

Loss of Agency One of the most important factors in a healthy democracy is the sense of agency. When citizens in a democracy feel they have some agency over their lives, whether it is economic, social, or political, they will work together to create a better future for themselves, their families, and their society. When this sense is taken from them by outside variables such as market forces, they lose this sense of collectivism, and become less likely to work together. This division leaves...


The Power of Civic Engagement: Mila Atmos

Engagement and Representation There are a multitude of ways to become an engaged citizen. Often people think of civic engagement as an overwhelming and high-level concept. In reality, civic engagement can be performed on any level, from lowering the speed limit on your street and participating in a protest, to joining a local advisory council or parent-teacher organization. The important part of civic engagement is not what we do, but that we actually do something to make our voices heard....


The Time for Civic Engagement is Now: Mila Atmos

Since the 2016 election, it has become increasingly imperative that we participate in our democracy as citizens. There are many ways to be civically engaged beyond voting and running for office, from being mindful about civic actions to passionately advocating for an issue. Our society and our social contract are only as strong as those participating in them, and the more you can get involved —- and inspire others to do the same -— the more our democracy represents us. Find out more: Mila...


The Blueprint for American Democracy: Ezra Levin

Democracy Reform When American democracy was conceived, the US was comprised of 13 states on the Eastern Seaboard, with a population of just over 2.5 million. The 18th and 19th century version of our democracy was meant for a smaller, less populous, and overwhelmingly whiter nation than the America we live in today. In order to preserve and strengthen our democracy for the future, we must engage in progressive reforms. One example is removing outdated and arbitrary procedures like the...


The Ethics of Big Data: Matthew L. Jones

Fourth Amendment The Fourth amendment protects people from unlawful searches and seizures. For example, in the 1970s the Supreme Court ruled that a warrant is necessary in order to listen in on telephone conversations, but not to collect the phone numbers. This is the precedent that allows for big data to collect a vast amount of information about people on the internet. Further, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has determined that the legal analysis for the Fourth amendment is...


Achieving Tolerable Climate: Jonathan Lamontagne

Tolerable climate and economic conditions Lamontagne’s study defines tolerable economic conditions as follows: the present value of abatement costs would not exceed 3% of gross world product and climate damages would not exceed 2% of gross world product. Current gross world product is estimated to be$80trillion, so 3% of that would be $2.4 trillion. Although this a large dollar amount, it would be a reasonable investment as a percentage of gross world product. Tolerable climate is defined...


The Crisis in Higher Education: Liz Willen

Education Inequity There is a college completion crisis and access crisis in America: black adults are only two thirds as likely to hold college degrees as whites, and the highest achieving students from the wealthiest families are three times as likely to enroll in a highly selective college as similar students from poor families.Low achievers from high income familieshave a higher chanceof graduating from college thanhighachieving students from low income families. Community...


The Economics of Health: James Knickman

Social Determinants Good health is the product of access to quality medical care and sound public health policy. Effective policies that improve health outcomes include the Earned Income Tax Credit, supportive housing, and access to good public education. Per capita spending on medical care and social services in America and in European countries is about the same, but the US spends much more on medical care, while Europe spends more on social services. Europeans have longer life expectancy...


Eradicating Cash Bail: Robin Steinberg

The price of freedom Cash bail was initially conceived as a way to incentivize the accused to come to court at their appointed court dates. As the criminal legal system expanded during the tough-on-crime years, cash bail was set at amounts that low income people could not afford. Even though they had yet to be convicted of a crime, they were forced to go to jail because they could not afford bail. One way to get out is to plead guilty to a small offense so that they can go home, but that...


The Human Rights of Women: Lynn Paltrow

The human rights of women The health needs of half of our population – women – include maternal and reproductive health. Equal rights mean that women can access the health care they need. Until we take into account the capacity for pregnancy, women will never achieve equality. The very survival of our species depends on meeting these needs. Fetal Personhood Since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, anti-abortion activists have sought to establish fetuses, fertilized eggs, and embryos as...


Gender Parity: Melissa Mark-Viverito

Gender equity in government It’s a disservice to our communities and our democracy when the voices of women are missing in government. Women have a right for government to reflect their needs. The actual, lived experiences and perspectives of women in leadership positions enrich and inform our budgets, public policy, and legislation in ways that would not be possible in their absence. A prime example is reproductive rights. When women are at the table, onerous legislation against...


Census 2020: Ashley Allison (Rebroadcast)

Census data supports communities Government and businesses rely on census data to provide the necessary services that make healthy and vibrant communities possible. The data reveals how many grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals, or schools are needed, and even influence public transportation routes and budgets. An accurate and fair count will ensure that adequate resources are allocated. Undercounting and the citizenship question Asking whether the census participant is a citizen could...


Micah White

The crisis of our time People have very little political power beyond voting on election day. Current governing structures are incapable of changing the world and solving the big problems that we face, such as the climate crisis. The solution is to form a social movement – perhaps through revolution – that can make good decisions and achieve its goals, such as win elections, take sovereignty, and maintain power. A notable example is the Five Star Movement in Italy, which directs policy and...


Dave Archambault II

Financial risk and social cost Engaging in early and constructive dialogue between indigenous communities and corporations is crucial for success. Big companies involved in infrastructure projects that affect indigenous lands have the resources for careful research and negotiation to mitigate potential financial risks and social costs. Educating both indigenous people and corporations about each other’s interests protects indigenous rights and values, and increases the chances of fruitful...


Bearing Witness



Jackie Zammuto

See it, film it, change it Video documentation of injustice and systemic abuse can be a powerful tool for holding offenders accountable. The key is to present and disseminate the video effectively and strategically so that it is seen by the people who are moved to effect change. When the footage of an incident captures enough detail, it can be used as evidence in a court of law and positively affect the outcome of the trial. Think before sharing After recording human rights abuse, take...


Alan Yarborough and Bill Steverson

Enhance understanding The purpose of civil discourse is to enhance understanding, not to change minds. It’s always helpful to have a diversity of ideas, understand different perspectives, and potentially learn flaws in our own thinking. The pursuit of understanding is in and of itself a worthy endeavor. Civil discourse curriculum The five-week curriculum on civil discourse for the Episcopal Church is designed to facilitate productive conversations about society’s important issues. The...


María Urbina

Grassroots power Grassroots movements believe that change starts on the local level. Indivisible started with sharing a Google doc guide to empower everyday people to now having over 4,000 groups throughout the country. Indivisible’s website features information that demystifies Congress and turns everyone into the insiders that they should be. Candidates who are in regular community with the grassroots become better at making a case for bringing voters along to join them in their...


Bradford Fitch

Meet your Member of Congress If a lawmaker has not yet made a firm decision on an issue, an in-person meeting has a ninety-four percent efficacy rate as an advocacy strategy. It’s important for constituents to connect a personal story to pertinent information of how proposed legislation will impact the local community. This is what the lawmaker wants to know. Showing up at town hall meetings is also an effective way to share the needs and concerns of the community to the member of...