Digital Democratic Dialogue: Re-Imagining Youth Civic Engagement through Participatory Politics
Nicole Mirra

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



The State University of New Jersey

Primary Discipline

Social Studies
The Black Lives Matter and DREAMer movements are two examples of how youth civic engagement in the United States is changing as young people bypass traditional civic and political gatekeepers and leverage social media to make their voices heard around the world. Although these interactive and creative forms of engagement, which researchers describe as participatory politics, are increasingly influencing public discourse, their potential lessons for youth civic education require further theorizing and research, particularly in formal school settings. This study explores how young people in four demographically and politically distinct communities across the country understand and engage in participatory politics in the context of high school literacy classrooms. Utilizing a social design approach in which participating teachers and the researcher co-construct student learning cycles focused on the analysis, design, and sharing of digital political narratives, the study will highlight the literacy aspects of participatory politics and its implications for re-imagining the nature and purpose of civic expression. It will trace how young people interpret online political rhetoric, design persuasive digital texts, and communicate online with peers in different social contexts. The study aims to facilitate the re-design of civic education curriculum and instruction in public schools to foster equity and social action.
About Nicole Mirra
Nicole Mirra is an assistant professor of urban teacher education in the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University. Her research explores the intersections of critical literacy and civic engagement with youth and teachers across classroom, community, and digital learning environments. Central to her research and teaching agenda is a commitment to honoring and amplifying the literacy practices and linguistic resources that students from minoritized communities bring to civic life. Her work has appeared in Review of Research in Education, Journal of Literacy Research, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, Urban Education, and more. She is the author of Educating for Empathy: Literacy Learning and Civic Engagement (Teachers College Press, 2018) and Doing Youth Participatory Action Research: Transforming Inquiry with Researchers, Educators, and Students (Routledge, 2015).

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