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The Active Citizen in a Digital Age

Instructors:
Lucy Bernholz, Director, Digital Civil Society Lab at Stanford PACS, Senior Scholar, Stanford University
Rob Reich, Faculty Co-director, Stanford PACS, and Professor, Political Science, Stanford University
A free course from Stanford University
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The Course

We participate in our communities in many ways – as neighbors, volunteers, voters, donors, members of local organizations (PTAs, churches, associational groups), and political activists. Democracies depend on people being willing to participate. Some participation is required (paying taxes, some military service). But democracies also depend on people's willingness to join in by choice.

This class provides an introduction to the roles of individuals and associations in shaping our collective public life and the civic fabric of our towns, states, and countries. Sometimes this involves coming together to influence governing bodies such as city councils or public agencies; sometimes it focuses on doing the things your community wants but can't or won't get government to do.

And while democracy and democratic structures have evolved over centuries, the different sectors of society are still in the early stages of adapting to digital dependencies. This class introduces the ways in which networked digital infrastructure matters to democracy. Throughout the class we will consider the ways in which digital dependence is changing civil society and active civic engagement.

Class participants will learn about – and practice – coming together to make community decisions and the importance of these roles in democratic systems.

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