Yesterday I was in a meeting of faculty that seemed to have a strong political agenda. After the meeting I was chatting with some of my colleagues as they discussed this politics and they mentioned something that got me thinking.
We had an incident on our campus right before the holidays. All I knew was that a popular foreign exchange student, who had gone home for the holiday received a letter stating that he was not allowed back the following semester. Our school newspaper ran a story about it, all of the students were “up in arms” about it, but only on YikYak. One of the professors I was talking with said, “In my day, we would have had our pick signs out on the mall and refused to go to class until we got answers”. And that is what got me thinking….
Is our next generation so passive, or so “ME” that they no longer care to stand up for things that are unjust, unless it is anonymous and easy to type with your thumbs?
Or, have we created this generation?
In a report published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology examining the concerns of Millennials, there has been a decline in young people’s “trust in others, their interest in government and the time they said they spent thinking about social problems.”(APA 2012)
I believe that , as a teacher of communications, it is my responsibility to help my students find their way to being civically engaged members of our media and society. I find that many of my students are floundering in what they want to do with their education and, if only, they had a social cause to commit to, they just might find their way.
Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our community and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both the political and non-political processes. (Ehrlich 2000).
I am interested in more research in this area. I have been concentrating on the technology of media for sometime now and will continue to do so, but, there needs to be a direction for the use of this technology and social and civic engagement is that direction.
I am in the process of creating a course on Emerging Media and Civic Engagement. This course will concentrate on how students use technology to create social awareness for a cause. As in my Interactive Documentary for Social Change class, the research and proclamation of one’s cause is one of the most difficult aspects of this class. Working with students to help them find a cause that fits will be a wonderful challenge. This course could be a blog based course that concentrates on social media and interaction with like minded people and organizations.
I would appreciate any ideas, research or comments about this work.
American Psychological Association(APA) (2012). Recent Generations Focus More On Fame, Money Than Giving Back. Retrieved from: http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2012/03/fame-giving.aspx
Ehrlich, T. (2000). Civic Responsibility and Higher Education. The Definition of Civic Engagement. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/ref/college/collegespecial2/coll_aascu_defi.html
Wooodruff. J. (2012) How Civically Engaged Are Millennials?. PBS Newshour. Retrieved from: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/how-civically-engaged-are-millennials/