21st CENTURY DEMOCRACY

Tools for Civic Engagement


 


Selected resources within and beyond MIT

Democracy Homepage
 



CONTENTS
 

Civic Education

Voting

Election Administration

Resources for Engagement

Democracy Centers

Reading


CIVIC EDUCATION
 


 

What is Democracy?
Article in Britannica


Civics Renewal Network
A consortium of nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations committed to strengthening civic life in the U.S. by increasing the quality of civics education in our nation’s schools and by improving accessibility to high-quality, no-cost learning materials. On the site, teachers can find the best resources of these organizations, searchable by subject, grade, resource type, standards, and teaching strategy.
Website | Links to groups in the consortium and their resources

iCivics
"Founded by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to develop innovative approaches to civic education. Its game-centered curriculum provides students with tools  for active participation and democratic action. The curriculum is grouped into topical units that align to state and Common Core standards." (info via Civics Renewal Network)
Website


Civic Education Center
"A nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in California. The Center’s programs are implemented with the assistance of a network of public- and private-sector organizations and educational leaders in every state and congressional district in the country and in more than 80 other countries, many of which are emerging and advanced democracies. The Center has its roots in the interdisciplinary Committee on Civic Education formed at the University of California." (Info via Civics Renewal Network)
Website


Voices of Democracy The U.S. Oratory Project
The emphasis of the project is on the actual words of those who have defined the country’s guiding principles, debated controversial social and political issues, and shaped the identity and character of the American people. On this site, you will find scholarly articles offering critical analyses of significant speeches, curriculum units designed for undergraduate teachers and students, lesson plans for high school and middle school teachers, and a blog with brief commentaries on speeches and pedagogical issues.
Website

U.S. Capitol Visitor Center
The center is the visitors’ gateway to the Capitol. Through educational programming, tours and exhibits, we inform, involve and inspire every visitor to the Capitol. Educational materials celebrate the art, architecture and history of the Capitol. We strive to stimulate discussions of the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship in our representative democracy and explain the role that Congress plays in our daily lives.
Website

Commonwealth Club
"After the Capitol Siege: The Need For Civics Education"
Event notes


The Democracy Group | Podcasts
Engaging in civil discourse. Inspiring civic engagement. Exploring the future of our democracy.
Podcasts


History of the Filibuster
Explained by Senator Elizabeth Warren
Video

Kill Switch
Examining the Racist History of the Filibuster
NPR Program

 


VOTING
 




How to Vote in Every State
See video with info for your state — and vote!

Register to Vote + Find Out What's On the Ballot in Your State
Vote411 Website

MITvote
A student-run organization
Website


Register to Vote with Turbovote
In English
En Español


Voting Guide by State
Vote411.org


Resources from Rock the Vote
RocktheVote.org


League of Women Voters
Website

Fair Fight
Promotes fair elections around the country, encourages voter participation in elections, and educates voters about elections and their voting rights.
Website
 


ELECTION ADMINISTRATION

 

MIT Election Data and Science Lab
Website
Research Explainers | Find an election expert


Stanford MIT Healthy Elections Project
The Project was developed to ensure that the 2020 election could proceed with integrity, safety, and equal access. The project succeeded by bringing together academics, civic organizations, election administrators, and election administration experts to assess and promote best practices.
Website

Find your State Election Office
Website

U.S. Election Assistance Commission
Website

Election Administration at State and Local Levels
Website: National Conference of State Legislatures
 

Bipartisan Policy Center

Center for Election Innovation and Research

Center for Technology and Civic Life

Democracy Works

The Elections Group, LLC

University of Rhode Island Voter Operations and Election Systems (URI VOTES) 


 


CIVIC ENGAGEMENT
 


 


What is civic engagement?
"Civic engagement means participating in activities intended to improve the quality of life in one’s community by addressing issues of public concern. The act of civic engagement can be conducted in three main ways including electoral participation, individual volunteerism, and advocacy, or activism."
Website


Community Tool Box
Resources for learning skills, taking action, teaching, and training others in organizing for community development. Learn about engaging stakeholders, planning, building leadership, and sustaining your efforts over time.
Website

The Democracy Group | Podcasts
Engaging in civil discourse. Inspiring civic engagement. Exploring the future of our democracy.
Podcasts

 

How To

How to contact your Senator and Representative

       Directory of Congressional Representatives

       Directory of Senators

How to write a Letter to the Editor


 


DEMOCRACY CENTERS AND ORGANIZATIONS 
 


Interior of the Dome, U.S. Capitol Building

 

The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation
The center, located at Harvard University, explores the relationships between democratic governance and the persistence of urgent social problems.
Website


Brennan Center for Justice
The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law works to build an America that is democratic, just, and free.
Website


USC Center for Inclusive Democracy
A nonpartisan research center focused on elections, voting behaviors, and electoral and political participation. Founded by political sociologist Dr. Mindy Romero, its studies have been used to inform public policy at all levels of government, as well as empower local communities seeking to eliminate disparities in social and economic well-being of the electorate.
Website


The McCourtney Institute for Democracy
Penn State College of the Liberal Arts
Website


Renew Democracy
RDI is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to empowering the public to uphold constitutional principles in their civic behavior.
Website


 


READING

 

Phantoms of a Beleguered Republic by Stephen Skowronek, John A. Dearborn, and Desmond King

A powerful dissection of one of the fundamental problems in American governance today: the clash between presidents determined to redirect the nation through ever-tighter control of administration and an executive branch still organized to promote shared interests in steady hands, due deliberation, and expertise.
 

What’s Luck Got to Do with It? by Edward D. Kleinbard

The American dream of equal opportunity is in peril. America’s economic inequality is shocking, poverty threatens to become a heritable condition, and our healthcare system is crumbling despite ever increasing costs. In this thought-provoking book, Edward D. Kleinbard demonstrates how the failure to acknowledge the force of brute luck in our material lives exacerbates these crises—leading to warped policy choices that impede genuine equality of opportunity for many Americans.

The Free-Market Family

The Free-Market Family
 
by Maxine Eichner

US families have been pushed to the wall. At the bottom of the economic ladder, poor and working-class adults aren’t forming stable relationships and can’t give their kids the start they need because of low wages and uncertain job prospects. Toward the top, professional parents’ lives have become a grinding slog of long hours of paid work. In this provocative book, Maxine Eichner argues that these very different struggles might seem unconnected, but they share the same root cause. Read a free chapter here.
 

Vote Choice and the Nonseparability of Economic and Social Issues” by Lukas F Stoetzer,  Steffen Zittlau

Political issues are central to contemporary theories of democracy and political representation. Research on voting behavior often assumes that American voters hold distinct economic and cultural issue preferences. In this research note, Lukas F Stoetzer and Steffen Zittlau point out that this does not necessarily imply that preferences for candidates’ positions on the two issue dimensions are also additively separable in voters’ decisions.
 

Exit from Hegemony by Alexander Cooley and Daniel Nexon

We live in a period of great uncertainty about the fate of America’s global leadership. Many believe that Donald Trump’s presidency marks the end of liberal international order—the very system of global institutions, rules, and values that shaped the American international system since the end of World War II. Alexander Cooley and Daniel Nexon develop a new, integrated approach to understanding the rise and decline of hegemonic orders. Read a free chapter here.

A Change is Gonna Come


A Change is Gonna Come
 by Brian F. Harrison

“Get your head out of your @*&. Snowflake. Stupid liberal. Ignorant conservative.” There is much discussion today about the decline in civility in American politics. How can deliberative democracy survive if we can’t even speak to people with whom we disagree? As this book argues, we need a new way to discuss politics, one that encourages engagement and room for dissent. Read a free chapter here.
 

Never Trump by Robert P. Saldin and Steven M. Teles

As it became increasingly apparent that Donald Trump might actually become the Republican party’s 2016 presidential nominee, alarmed conservatives coalesced behind a simple, uncompromising slogan: Never Trump. Based on extensive interviews with conservative opponents of the president, Robert P. Saldin and Steven M. Teles reveal why such a wide range of committed partisans chose to break with their longtime comrades in arms. Read a free chapter here.
 

Does Issue Importance Predict Learning About Candidates?” by Joshua Robison

A long-standing argument is that policy voting is more likely on issues the voter considers subjectively important. However, existing evidence is highly mixed. Joshua Robinson leverages panel data from the 2008-2009 American National Election Studies (ANES) Panel to investigate the relationship between subjective issue importance and a key mechanism thought to link it and policy voting: candidate knowledge.
 

This Land is My Land

This Land is My Land 
by James R. Skillen

Anti-federal government sentiment has animated conservative politics in the West for decades upon decades. This book tells the story of conservative rebellion-ranging from legal action to armed confrontations-against federal land management in the American West over the last forty years. Read a free chapter here.


The Ubiquitous Presidency by Joshua M. Scacco and Kevin Coe

American democracy is in a period of striking tumult. The clash of a rapidly changing socio-technological environment and the traditional presidency has led to an upheaval in the scope and standards of executive leadership. This book brings needed insight to this complex situation by offering the first comprehensive framework for understanding contemporary presidential communication in relation to the current socio-technological environment.