Why I picked it up: Civics. It is a topic not well-taught in school, yet seems to be one our country desperately needs. Indeed, in my research museum-goers often lament how our society needs civics to properly function. The idea that museums could step into this gap also comes up, so the theme of this paper caught my eye. That civic learning also leads to equity and opportunity also caught my eye, since those are also impacts that museums often seek to create as well.
What you need to know: The two organizations behind the paper, the National Conference on Citizenship and Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement, are examining if civics can be used to "build an inclusive foundation of engaged citizens," and thus address challenges different population segments are facing. Their recommendations include:
I have to admit that while I think these goals are noble, number two stood out for me as I don't think that people across lines of difference can agree upon history itself. I'm seeing too much coming out of work I have in the field that indicates that is going to be a challenge. If we can't agree on what happened in the past, and why it happened that way, how are we supposed to move forward? I'm not normally so pessimistic, but too much is leaning me that way right now.
I do, however, very much like how they summarized each goal and then looked at it through the lenses of equality, opportunity, and equity. By rigorously doing it for each goal, and then through each lens separately, they make clear how these are three distinct things that are necessary to consider.
Read or skip? This review gives you a sense of some efforts in the areas of civics. That may be enough for you, in which case, skip. But if you are planning initiatives in the realm of civics, civic dialogue, etc., then I recommend looking at the NCOC and PACE websites for more papers coming out of their working sessions. There may be new details that are food for thought or opportunities for museums to step up in a meaningful way.
Full citation: "Recommendations for Exploring Civic Learning as a Pathway to Equity and Opportunity." National Conference on Citizenship and Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement. January 2018
Have a suggestion for my reading list? Email it to me at susie (at) wilkeningconsulting (dot) com.
I respectfully acknowledge that I live and work on the lands of the Duwamish people, whose ancestors have lived here for generations. I thank them for their ongoing care of this land, and I endeavor to help museums bring forward a more complete and inclusive history and culture in their work.