BROWN/Citizen

This Week’s Canvas: On Getting Things Right

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There’s no magic trick for picking three stories to put at the top of the concerned citizen’s reading list. I struggle to survive the daily deluge of news just like everyone else. I often fiddle with the idea that this week was the week when it became impossible. Fortunately there was one headline this round that kept me focused: What if Politicians Studied the Social Fabric like Economists Study GDP: One of Washington’s most conservative legislators on an age of polarization, inequality and fragmentation I took the bait before I read the last word. What if? What if politicians and…

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Editor’s Note: November 2016 and Finding the Way Forward for Civic Education

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Returning to “online news” with a fair measure of caution, I read a suggestion to “find solace in your tribe,” and I knew exactly who I needed to talk to in the days ahead. I have always counted a particular network of civic educators as one of the priceless assets of my career. Failing to put a value on it, however, puts it at risk of the same calculation that has allowed STEM education to push civics out of classrooms. All signs indicate that our communities might be more at risk than ever. We need civics. It’s time we pull…

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2015 National Academy: The Real Power of a Political Classroom

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The 2015 National Academy for Civics and Government crossed the finish line in Los Angeles as the summer rolled into its final act for teachers, students and their families. The first day of school is again imminent and the Academy’s alumni are returning to their classrooms with big ideas about how to talk about politics. After three weeks of relentless reading, provocative learning and sometimes heated debate, alumni leveraged the work of a long summer seminar to present their own answers to some very big questions about our political life together. Panel teams worked together to articulate the tension embedded…

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What Julian Bond Had to Say about Non Voters and Wings on Frogs

What Julian Bond Had to Say about Non Voters and Wings on Frogs

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Colleagues throughout the years have argued with me about non voters. I’ve heard it from teachers who answer the call to civic duty every day, grad students frustrated with apathetic communities and activists who spend their days knocking on doors asking for one simple act when the day comes. They all tell me that those who don’t vote have no right to complain. First I contemplate this right to complain. I know my colleagues are as true to the freedom of expression as they are to the responsibility of voting. This idea that anyone in the United States has surrendered…

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Echoes: Creativity and Aristotle’s Potluck

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As classic works become more familiar you find those ideas are anything but dead and gone. In fact, they have us surrounded. The ubiquity of ideas you’ve come to associate with Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Federalists or Antifederalists suggests those writers captured something fundamental about how we understand the world and ourselves. Our Echoes series attempts to capture these reverberations through time. Perhaps there is new insight to be seen by presenting the past to the present and vice versa. I recently read Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer in an attempt to keep thinking creatively despite the doldrums of…

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National Academy 2013: Seeing Big in L.A.

National Academy 2013: Seeing Big in L.A.

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The challenge for this year’s National Academy was to “think spatially and graphically.” And it certainly got visual. The model of political order Will developed through his work with the National Academy over the years was presented as our launch pad this year. It’s where our three weeks started in contrast to years past where it was slowly revealed as an ultimate landing zone. Each seminar included time to think inside and throughout the visual models presented. Will shared what the models represented as well as how they had developed and often continue to do so. Participants tried their hands…

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Write for Politicolor

Write for Politicolor

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If you believe political life has more potential than red vs. blue or even waving the red, white and blue, chances are that you have a story to share. Politicolor contributors believe we can breathe life back into our political community if we share the stories of what ordinary people are doing to make their corner of the world a better place and the ideas that have helped them believe it was possible. Or maybe even think it was imperative. The Politicolor Pitch The basic premise of Politicolor is that we can make it easier to see what active citizens…

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Seeing and Knowing

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Or, you might be thinking, “seeing is believing.” Any survey of Politicolor quickly reveals a certain fascination with SEEING. But, here, seeing is not constrained by our… but is something of another (grey) matter. Our posts have asked what we know from what we see and how seeing changes how we think about what we know. That sentence could make you dizzy but that’s the point. There is an inextricable bond between what we see and what we know. Our previous investigations have involved reference to Cicero and Scipio’s Dream or Carl Sagan and astronauts. And sometimes both. We have…

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