What kind of citizen are you?

I am still riding along, a bit, listening and trying to wrap my head around the #digciz conversation that began a week ago.

Week 2 began with a post co-authored by Katia Hildebrandt and Alec CourosWhat kind of (Digital) citizen are you? , followed by a video broadcast and Twitter chat on the questions and themes they explored in their post.

I’m cutting short the thoughtful exploration in their post and broadcast but want to use one small bit of it to set up the video below.

Hildebrandt and Couros share a framing of citizenship from Joel Westheimer and Joseph Kahne that sets up three types: Personally responsible, participatory and justice-oriented. For each type, they propose what it might look like when we think about “digital” citizenship. (Starts at the 14:50 mark of the video broadcast).

Which leads me to the video below.

This is a keynote address from Northwestern University’s TEACHx17 – Dr. Marcia Chatelain on “Social Media as a Tool for Inclusive Teaching.” (Her talk begins at 4:40).

Her story is about the events in Ferguson, Missouri following the police shooting, and death of, Michael Brown.

Hildebrandt and Couros propose that individuals who exhibit digital citizenship of the “justice-oriented” type share the following:

  • Digital identity is leveraged for and invested in the promotion of change
  • Campaign to work toward social change and equity
  • Willing to call out injustices
  • Engages in controversial and uncomfortable conversation.

Engages in controversial and uncomfortable conversation. Chatelain lays out the duty we have, as educators, to do that, in service of the other elements of justice-oriented citizenship noted by Hildebrandt and Couros.

She tells the story of how she used Twitter and the #fergusonsyllabus hashtag to more deeply understand what that duty is, and means. There is digital in this story. Twitter and the community and connections it affords are critical.

But also critical is this (16:29):

“If we don’t have an interdisciplinary and interwoven conversation about where inclusive teaching happens we are doing no work. If we rely on the cast of characters – the folks in sociology, the folks in history, the folks in ethnic studies, the folks in African American studies – to do the crisis conversation in class, we are doing nothing.”



2 thoughts on “What kind of citizen are you?

  1. Thanks for the video, which I will watch when I get some time.
    One simmering question all this week is about the idea of the citizen — is a “good citizen” an “engaged” one? Can you be a good citizen by remaining quiet, watchful? Who determines what engagement looks like? (lots of far-right folks are engaged, but many fall outside my definition of good citizen). What are we “citizens” of, exactly? The digital elements complicate all of these terms and metaphors in frustrating and interesting ways. But I enjoy the needing to think it all through, particularly with others.


    1. Thanks, Kevin. This whole #digciz conversation has had great value for me as well. Stepping into the stream when I can…but it has me thinking about those same questions you pose in your comment. What I found interesting about Chatelain’s talk is that she advocated for civil discourse in the live classroom – but drew inspiration, confidence (“I am not alone”) from social media. It’s more complex than that, of course…but it got me thinking more about the co-construction of “engaged” citizen through our digital presence and what we do professionally.

      Thanks, too, for your active contributions to the week. I’ll be reflecting for awhile…:-)


Comments are closed.