Civic Engagement launches Democracy Project

Emma Daniel


The Office of Civic Engagement is holding a virtual discussion on social media as part of the Democracy Project, a new initiative to open up a dialogue on issues for students, faculty and staff.

Lauren Cochran, the civic engagement coordinator, said this project aims to expand students’ worldviews and encourage a dialogue.

She said the project aims to encourage students to be active learners and be more aware or the world around them.

“For us to make good decisions, we have to be informed,” Cochran said. “This makes us accountable to explore these issues more on our own and become informed citizens.”

This initiative comes with the help of the David Matthews Center for Civic Life, which promotes active citizenship through dialogue. They’re helping to train students to facilitate and moderate those talks.

“We have great freedom as American citizens, and we have this incredible right to our freedom of speech,” Cochran said. “In recent years, we’ve seen a dramatic 

increase of information and our access to it.”

“This, in turn, places more responsibility on us to determine the validity of this information and we have to explore issues on our own to be informed citizens. The way we’re trying to do that is provide events students to engage with.”

The Democracy Project hopes to encourage students to select resources of information from a variety of media backgrounds.

It also aims to incentivize listening and understanding other perspectives.

The upcoming Zoom discussion will cover the power of social media and its impact on the world today.

Dr. Robbyn Taylor, lecturer and student publications adviser, will be there to facilitate discussion. She said practicing active learning is crucial for the social age.

“We have to be a little bit cynical in our social media consumption,” Taylor said. “We have to think about who is posting and what they have to gain.

“Is the idea or ‘news’ something that is beneficial to a political party or to a pocketbook? And if so, we should weigh that information differently.”

She said incorrect information is a problem we can no longer ignore.

“We aren’t victims of misinformation — anymore,” she said. “We know it is out there and we have to shoulder the responsibility.”

The discussion will take place through Zoom on Oct. 21 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Students should sign up for the discussion at

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