Learning for Civic Action Challenge
How can all people learn about and take civic action to improve their communities and the world?
Today’s mounting social, political, and environmental crises will require collective action, particularly for equitable outcomes. More people today are interested in community-focused careers and activities, yet many, especially youth, feel that they do not have a voice or choose not to participate in community, state, national, or global governance. A lack of formal opportunities to learn and practice civic skills is linked with drastic variations in access to civic education around the world. As examples from Malawi, Pakistan, and the United States show, the aims and strategies of civic curricula differ across countries and often exclude important components like critical thinking and participatory, hands-on learning. While many countries face these and other unique challenges, they also hold valuable lessons for how diverse cultural and linguistic traditions, leadership, and knowledge can and should be included in a more holistic understanding of citizen development.
Improvements to civic action learning globally will require significant investment from governments, policy reform, and improvements to curricula. However, there is also a role for technology-enabled solutions, both in and outside of classrooms. Technology can connect learners across diverse communities and locations, allowing them to explore, share, and localize best practices. Classroom-based tools and programs can integrate participatory approaches such as experiential and problem-based learning. Training can help educators connect civic learning more closely with their students’ lived experiences and adapt teaching and materials to their community’s unique challenges, assets, histories, cultures, languages, and systems. Outside the classroom, direct-to-learner solutions have potential to bring communities together by fostering greater peer and intergenerational exchange and collaboration. Across settings, civic education can integrate into practicing other durable skills like climate literacy, social justice and inclusion, and social-emotional competencies.
The MIT Solve community is looking for eight technology-enabled solutions that help learners take effective action on community and global issues by deepening civic knowledge and practicing collaborative problem solving. To that end, Solve seeks solutions that:
Provide access to improved civic action learning in a wide range of contexts with educator support for classroom-based approaches, and community-building opportunities for out of school, community-based approaches.
Help learners acquire key civic skills and knowledge, including how to assess credibility of information, engage across differences, understand one’s own agency, and engage with issues of power, privilege, and injustice.
Build core social-emotional learning skills, including self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
Enable learners to bridge civic knowledge with taking action by understanding real-world problems, building networks, organizing plans for collective action, and exploring prosocial careers.
Special Call: Black & Brown Innovators in the US Program
Youth of color are less likely to have civic learning experiences in school, and existing curricula and resources are often disconnected from their lived experiences. And yet, communities of color are also leaders in effective collective action as a result of being excluded from formal channels. As part of Solve’s ongoing work on US racial equity, we will select 1-2 solutions from the US working to address these disparities for our Black & Brown Innovators in the US Program.