The Chicago-based Spencer Foundation has announced a $2 million effort to promote high-quality civic and political engagement among young people.
Measuring the Quality of Civic and Political Engagement will focus on the development of ways to measure the nature and quality of civic and political discussions taking place among youth, whether face-to-face, in writing, or online. Through the initiative, five teams of researchers from four universities — the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Colorado — will receive $400,000 each to investigate the effectiveness of a range of educational practices and create a set of tools to measure the effectiveness of programs that promote civil discourse and dialogue and assess the credibility of online materials. By supporting the development of reliable and valid measures of engagement, the initiative hopes to provide indicators that can be used to guide policy, curriculum, and coursework reforms.
"Democracy only works if people think that there can be multiple and competing answers to national issues, and that we need to listen carefully to one another and learn from one another," said Spencer Foundation president Michael S. McPherson. "It's the way the marketplace of ideas is supposed to work."