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The Active Citizen in a Digital Age

Monday, May 15, 2017
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The Course

We participate in our communities in many ways – as neighbors, volunteers, voters, donors, members of local organizations (PTAs, churches, associational groups), and political activists. Democracies depend on people being willing to participate. Some participation is required (paying taxes, some military service). But democracies also depend on people's willingness to join in by choice.

This class provides an introduction to the roles of individuals and associations in shaping our collective public life and the civic fabric of our towns, states, and countries. Sometimes this involves coming together to influence governing bodies such as city councils or public agencies; sometimes it focuses on doing the things your community wants but can't or won't get government to do.

And while democracy and democratic structures have evolved over centuries, the different sectors of society are still in the early stages of adapting to digital dependencies. This class introduces the ways in which networked digital infrastructure matters to democracy. Throughout the class we will consider the ways in which digital dependence is changing civil society and active civic engagement.

Class participants will learn about – and practice – coming together to make community decisions and the importance of these roles in democratic systems.

Price: Free

The Instructors

Lucy Bernholz

Director, Digital Civil Society Lab at Stanford PACS, Senior Scholar, Stanford University

Lucy Bernholz is a Senior Research Scholar at Stanford University's Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and Director of the Digital Civil Society Lab. She has been a Visiting Scholar at The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and a Fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center, the Hybrid Reality Institute, and the New America Foundation. She is the author of numerous articles and books, including the annual Blueprint Series on Philanthropy and the Social Economy, the 2010 publication Disrupting Philanthropy, and her 2004 book Creating Philanthropic Capital Markets: The Deliberate Evolution. She is a co-editor of Philanthropy in Democratic Societies, to be published in August 2016 by the University of Chicago Press. She writes extensively on philanthropy, technology, and policy on her award winning blog,

She studied history and has a B.A. from Yale University, where she played field hockey and captained the lacrosse team, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Rob Reich

Faculty Co-director, Stanford PACS, and Professor, Political Science, Stanford University

Rob Reich is professor of political science and courtesy professor in philosophy and at the School of Education, at Stanford University. He is a faculty co-director of the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (publisher of the Stanford Social Innovation Review) and the director of the Center for Ethics in Society, both at Stanford University. His current research focuses on the relationship among philanthropy, democracy, and justice, with two book manuscripts on the topic, Just Giving: Toward a Political Theory of Philanthropy, and Philanthropy in Democratic Societies (edited with Lucy Bernholz and Chiara Cordelli). He is the co-director (with Lucy Bernholz) of the Digital Civil Society Lab, and the author or editor of five other books. He is the recipient of several teaching awards, including the Phi Beta Kappa Undergraduate Teaching Award and the Walter J. Gores Award, Stanford University's highest award for teaching. He is a board member of, and the magazine Boston Review. Before attending graduate school, Mr. Reich was a sixth grade teacher at Rusk Elementary School in Houston, Texas.

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