Expanding Citizenship: Expanding Our Understanding

Inter-Disciplinary Press
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The Citizen in the 21st Century, 2013, 1, pp. 111 - 123
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Today's world is characterised by complex and interrelated issues that often impact those most vulnerable and marginalised in society. The role of citizens in bringing about positive social change within this rapidly shifting context is widely acknowledged. An abundant range of citizenship programmes and models of community engagement have been developed to enhance the participation of citizens within society. Despite aiming to enable deeper or broader engagement, many of these programmes fail to adequately respond to the changing nature of citizenship. A focus on linear knowledge transfer fails to respond to the dynamic nature of change in an environment where people are more connected than ever before. There is a significant disconnect between the intentions and pedagogy of traditional civics education programmes and the communities and contexts within which they operate. There is now a call for new citizen engagement strategies that better consider the complex and changing nature of society. In this chapter we discuss the development of a new program that aims to respond to this call. As we prepare to create a new citizen engagement program for young people in Western Sydney, we reflect on our previous practice and draw on three key insights that will inform our progress. Namely that citizenship is a collective process; understanding and engaging with power is central to effective citizenship engagement; and Design Thinking can effectively be used to facilitate a process for expanding the active citizenship of young people.
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