$4.9 Million MacArthur Foundation Grant Funds Additional Research on New Media and Youth Participation in Politics

OAKLAND, Calif.–The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has awarded a four-year, $4.9 million grant to Mills College to fund theMacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics, which is led by Mills College Professor of Education Joseph Kahne. The grant supports Kahne’s new media research efforts with partner institutions including Harvard University, the University of Chicago, the University of Southern California, and the University of Arizona.

The continued funding allows Kahne and his associates to launch phase two of a program that began with a 2010 MacArthur Foundation grant. With the initial grant, Kahne assessed how a growing range of digital media can inform and empower youth while fostering constructive, collective, political action.

Results from Kahne’s latest study showed that social media is an important factor in mobilizing young adults—especially youth of color—to become politically involved. The new studies will closely examine findings of the potential benefits and risks of youth and participatory politics for meaningful, equal engagement in public life.

“We believe that youth engagement in what we refer to as participatory politics, facilitated by the availability of new media, reflects fundamental changes in political expectations, the pathways that can lead to engagement, and the ways in which youth can be politically active,” said Kahne.

In this second phase of research, the YPP research network will develop strong relationships with educators, activists, and youth-serving organizations. In addition, efforts will include a greater focus on disseminating findings of the research to scholars, policy makers, and the public.

Using the YPP research network’s latest discoveries, collaboration with education innovators will allow the research network to develop new models of curriculum and resources to prepare youth for engagement in participatory politics. Partnerships with organizations such as Facing History and Ourselves, the Chicago Public Schools’ Global Citizenship Initiative, and programs within the Oakland Unified School District will enable the group to respond to the benefits and challenges of youth and participatory politics.

In addition, the YPP research network will work on design principles for online platforms to provide powerful ways for youth to exert both voice and influence. Members of the YPP research network will also work with activists from varied ideological perspectives to learn more about ways they are using digital media and to create forums where knowledge related to effective practices can be shared.

“Social media is still evolving as a way for youth to remain involved in the political process,” said Kahne. “The Civic Engagement Research Group at Mills College has long been committed to supporting the development of effective civic education practices and policies to advance that effort.”

About Mills College

Nestled in the foothills of Oakland, California, Mills College is a nationally renowned, independent liberal arts college offering a dynamic progressive education that fosters leadership, social responsibility, and creativity in approximately 950 undergraduate women and 600 graduate women and men. The College ranks as one of the Best 377 Colleges in the country and one of the greenest colleges in the nation by The Princeton Review. U.S. News & World Report ranked Mills one of the top-tier regional universities in the country and lists it among the top colleges and universities in the West in the “Great Schools, Great Prices” category. For more information, visit www.mills.edu.

About the MacArthur Foundation

The MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society. MacArthur supports interdisciplinary research networks, “research institutions without walls,” on topics related primarily to human and community development. They are Foundation-initiated projects that bring together highly talented individuals from a spectrum of disciplines, perspectives, and research methods. The networks examine problems and address empirical questions that will increase the understanding of fundamental social issues and are likely to yield significant improvements in policy and practice. More information is at www.macfound.org/networks.


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Mills College
Cameron Sullivan
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