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What is a good citizen and how do you create one?
Harvard University's Graduate School of Education recently hosted a forum through their #Askwith series titled, "What is a good citizen and how do you create one?" The forum explored the themes of citizenship, civic engagement and diversity, not only within the United States but on a global level as well. It featured three distinguished panelists: Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, Director of CIRCLE (Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement), Callie Crossley, radio and tv host for WGBH, and Michelle Fine, distinguished professer at the City University of New York.
As the panelists navigated these topics, they raised a number of interesting questions that have us asking ourselves, "How can I be a more engaged citizen? What can I do to give back to my community?" Kei offered what she considers the tools for good citizenship:
- Radical skepticism
- Appetite for different perspectives and alternative explanations
- Empathy for those who disagree
- Direct ties with people that are different
- and the skills to navigate through the sea of information
She believes that engaging in these steps is a good way to begin to think about what we can do better in terms of being good citizens in our everyday lives.
Another one of the main ideas that was raised was that of collective solidarity. We live in a self-centered society where it is too often about individual responsibility versus social responsibility. Michelle Fine believes this is one of the most important questions moving forward, "As state violence perforates citizenship, how can we all create, in our local spaces, a place for us to remember our common commitment, where we dare to come together?" It is that call to action that is key!
Moving forward, we can only work to mend the social public fabric - we can only work to create spaces where we can re-imagine what is possible.