Designing for a "Lived Civics" Approach in Secondary Ethnic Studies Classrooms: A Comparative Case Study
Cati de los Rios

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of California, Berkeley

Primary Discipline

Literacy and/or English/Language Education
There has been a sharp rise in youth of color's political participation under the elections and presidencies of Donald Trump and Barack Obama (Cohen, Kahne, & Marshall, 2018; Street, Jones-Correa, & Zepeda-Milln, 2017). Concomitantly, youth of color and immigrant-origin youth are increasingly taking up digital communication tools to participate bi/multilingually in U.S. civic life (Zimmerman, 2016). As more non-dominant youth participate in contentious politics both off and online, current approaches to teaching civics in both urban and suburban schools are inadequately or ineffectively engaging their lived civic practices (Cohen et al., 2018). Traditional civic education routinely fails to address youth of color's and immigrant youth's racial and linguistic identities and lived experiences with state and democratic processes"??fundamental elements that shape their relationships to social and politics issues and government institutions (Mirra & Garcia, 2017). Lived Civics (Cohen et al., 2018) attends to youth of color's resistance practices like intergenerational grassroots organizing, online digital testimonios, participating in contentious politics, engaging in critical close readings of city ordinances and state and federal legislations, and working to transform one's communities from the margins. Using a lived civics frame, the purpose of this research project is to analyze the alternative forms of civic education opportunities occurring in two California school districts' Ethnic Studies programs with significant emergent bilingual/"English Learner"? populations (one large urban school district in Northern California, the other a large suburban working-class district in Southern California). Drawing from a combination of ethnographic and participatory design research methodologies, I aim to better understand and document how and/or if these curricular spaces of intense reading and writing are supplementing the often non-existent or very low-quality civic education that immigrant-origin students and students of color receive. Moreover, despite the widespread expansion of digital media tools in high schools, classroom-based studies on their pedagogical affordances and how they can enhance youth's political socialization remain limited, especially in Ethnic Studies classrooms. This study seeks to expand the field of education's theoretical and practical knowledge of the ways in which meaningful critical civic education is being designed through locally-situated and culturally relevant frameworks and practices.
About Cati de los Rios
Cati V. de los Ríos is an Assistant Professor of Literacy, Reading and Bi/Multilingual Education at UC Berkeley?s Graduate School of Education. Cati was previously an Assistant Professor of Language, Literacy and Culture at UC Davis?s School of Education. Her research on adolescent translingual literacies, bilingual youths? digital media practices, ethnic studies, and teacher education has been supported by the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation, Ford Foundation, and National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). She is the recipient of numerous awards including NCTE?s Promising Researcher Award, Janet Emig Award, and Alan C. Purvis Award. Her recent publications can be found in Harvard Educational Review, Reading Research Quarterly, Journal of Literacy Research, Research in the Teaching of English, and Anthropology & Education Quarterly.

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