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The Civic Media Project is Live!

December 04, 2015

The Civic Media Project is Live!

By Becky Michelson


The Engagement Lab at Emerson College and MIT Press are excited to launch the civic media project, an initiative that gathers leading scholars to collectively define the civic media space. Today we are launching our online Civic Media Project, a collection of over 100 case studies from around the world that explore the intersection of media, technology, and engagement in civic life. The civic media project is part of a larger initiative in civic media that incorporates two main features:

  1. A Book, Civic Media: Design, Technology, Practice*\* is an edited anthology to be published by MIT Press in early 2016. The book is organized in six sections — ”Foundations and Theory”, “Play, Imagination and Creativity”, “Designing Systems”, “Learning and Engagement”, “Community and Action”, and “Research and Funding”\. The following contributors have committed to this project:
  • Foundations and Theory- Peter Levine (Tufts University), Ethan Zuckerman (MIT), Helen Nissenbaum (NYU), W. Lance Bennett (University of Washington)

  • Play, Imagination, and Creativity- Henry Jenkins & Liana Gamber-Thompson (USC), Eric Gordon & Stephen Walter (Emerson College), Beth Coleman (University of Waterloo)

  • Designing Systems- Beth Noveck (NYU), Sarah Williams (MIT), Marcus Foth (QUT), David Karpf (George Washington University)

  • Learning and Engagement-*Renee Hobbes (URI), Paul Mihailidis (Emerson College), Roman Gerodimos (Bournemouth University), Elizabeth Soep (Youth Radio)*

  • Community and Action- Molly Sauter (McGill University), Ceasar McDowell (MIT), Colin Rhinesmith (University of Oklahoma)

  • Research and Funding- Joe Kahne & Benjamin Boyer (Mills College), Valerie Chang & Beth Gutelius (MacArthur Foundation)

  1. The Civic Media Project Case Studies**** include over 100 case studies from around the world to complement the book, being published in Scalar, a collaborative publishing tool founded at USC Annenberg. The case studies feature authors and academics across the world who are interested in the space of civic media. Case studies range from the descriptive to the analytical, from the single tool to the national program, from the enthusiastic to the critical. What binds them together is not a particular technology or domain (i.e. government or social movements), but rather the intentionality of achieving a common good. Each of the case studies collected in this project reflects the practices associated with the intentional effort of one or many individuals to benefit or disrupt a community or institution outside of one’s intimate and professional spheres.

The civic media project also includes a dynamic open peer review system to build critical dialog into the case studies. This involves critical reviews and dialog by contributors to the Civic Media Project and scholars and practitioners working in the field. We hope to uphold the quality and rigor of academic peer review while at the same time building a public and transparent process for peer review. Many of the case studies have been reviewed already, so please go see and add your comments!

The Civic Media Project also includes a robust learning guide which is available for educators, organization and community leaders, parents and scholars interested in applying the case studies to their space of learning or work. Built on the foundations of engagement learning and media literacy, the learning guide will help learners bring the cases to life, and apply them to various contexts and real world scenarios.

Defining Civic Media

Civic media implies the adoption or invention of new technologies with theintentionality of social, political, or cultural change. The practices associated with civic media range from government “engaging citizens” to activist groups coordinating across the globe for collective action. The common thread is the design or appropriation of tools that create, coordinate or facilitate what can be called “civic” acts, or actions taken in the world to benefit a group or community beyond one’s intimate sphere.

Why Civic Media?

There is a growing field of scholarship and applied work in civic media. Several academic journals and programs throughout the world have developed over the last five years. Journals such as New Media and Society and Convergencehave increased their focus in this field of scholarship, art schools such asPasadena Art Center have developed design programs in civic and social practices, and research universities such as MIT have developed centers in Civic Media. Yet there are no programs in the country that offer a degree in Civic Media. This is a significant gap in that there are a growing amount of career opportunities in the field. There are employment opportunities in government, community media, non-governmental organizations, digital agencies, and cultural organizations, specifically in the increasingly complex space of design, study and implementation of civic media.

How You Can Contribute?

Please engage in our project using the hashtag #civicmedia and feel free to use these messages to share with your networks:

  • Facebook: Check out the 100+ case studies from all over the world on and join the conversations about open data, emerging technologies, community activism with new media and more! #civicmedia

  • Twitter: Check out the new Civic Media Project w/ #MITPress! 100+ global case studies of #civicmedia. Read, learn & join the conversation at

  • Subscribe to our newsletter.

Welcome to the conversation and thanks for supporting our work.

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