YPP Network Description

The MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics (YPP) formed out of recognition that youth are critical to the future of democracy and that the digital age is introducing technological changes that are impacting how youth develop into informed, engaged, and effective actors.

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Social Media Polling for a Sense of Self

Youth Radio - April 7, 2019 - 7:11pm
“Justina isn’t Justina without…” I type into the question box on my Instagram Stories. Now, I wait.

The responses flooded in — some funny, some painfully accurate. Turns out, my nearly-40,000 followers have been noticing things about me I’m not even conscious of, like how I only wear bracelets on one arm, or my aversion to the word “stuff” (I guess I only ever say “things”). It was a shock to realize how much of my identity was on display and that absolute strangers were tracking my moves. It also felt like a lot of pressure. There were guesses that felt wildly incorrect, but enough people suggested them that I wondered: is that who I am?

These thoughts are familiar. Like just about everyone, I spent my teenage years questioning who I was. Alas, I didn’t have polls at the time to ask other people for their input and then count up the results, so I just took the traditional existential crisis route and got bangs.

Aubrey, who’s 16, doesn’t have the luxury of hiding from the internet. She maintains a brilliantly curated social presence, complete with existential captions and daily updates on her life. She uses polls almost-daily to ask her 1000-plus followers things like how their day is going or, in a subversive move, what they think she thinks of them. On that second question, she was surprised by the response.

“I’ve learned that a lot of people actually think I don’t like them! In every instance, I make sure to let the person know I definitely do like them. Mainly it’s because I am such a quiet person,” she said.

For those of us who put a lot of stake in our friendships, this kind of information can be jarring. But how important is it really?

“These polling numbers can truly effect how you feel about the most mundane of decisions,” said clinical psychologist Danielle Ramo, who directs research at Hope Lab and is a part of the adjunct faculty at the University of California, San Francisco.

Ramo told me the problem with the quantitative data we get from social media’s newest features is that it can elevate the importance of information that might not otherwise even register. Individuals can be more geared to care about responses to a poll that they would to information presented in a caption — or if they just hadn’t asked in the first place.

Social stress has always been there, and Aubrey told me that both online and IRL, she feels pressure to be on-brand all the time. She sees herself as one of those incredibly rare teenage girls who can float between the cliques, but maintaining that balance is a 24/7 job.  It also involves soliciting a lot of opinions from people who are essentially strangers.

If that sounds exhausting, that’s because it is — perhaps especially for girls. Researcher Jean Twenge noted in The Atlantic that 48 percent more girls said they often felt left out in 2015 than in 2010, compared with 27 percent more boys. Social media has made it possible to constantly access someone else’s life, compare it to every aspect of our own, and then ask why we weren’t invited. With the introduction of polling features, we have the ability to turn what were previously qualitative thoughts and feelings into solid numbers that are on display for the world.

“Before social media, we didn’t have as much opportunity to think of our social identities in a quantified way,” Ramo told me. “Social media blew that on its head by putting our network in a quantified place.”

Tracking likes and followers is old news — and as new data gathering features are rolled out on social media platforms, we are likely to find ourselves even more caught up in counting our way to a sense of self. But Ramo cautioned against seeing this shift as inherently negative. There isn’t a lot of research actually looking at the cause-and-effect relationship between social media and mental health, Ramo told me. Even in doing research for this piece, I found hundreds of articles trying to scare people off social media, backed by pseudo-science at worse and biased responses at best. The truth is that we just don’t know yet how this is shaping us.

Kamrin Baker is a social media influencer who is currently working to educate young people about mental health and sex education — and she is one of the most “on-brand” people I know. She ticks off all the boxes: a consistent filter, an honest voice, question boxes soliciting thoughts and feelings from her audience, cute dogs. She and I have talked about how the internet shaped our lives, and I wondered how she felt about the measurement tools being integrated into our feeds.

“I am comfortable with who I am, and my “brand” is kind of soaked in painful honesty and authenticity, so if something changed in my life or I stopped liking something, I think I’d tell people how and why I got to that conclusion and feel good about it,” Kami told me. “However, there have been times where I’ll just be sitting in my house, looking at my space, looking at my Instagram feed and thinking, ‘Is this really me?’ Like, am I really all cute and floral and positive and sunshiney?”

I honestly feel this way more often than I’m comfortable with. I wonder if I’m giving up too much of who I am to people who don’t really know me, and how they feel about being offered that power. I posted something last week about a train of thought I’ve been having, out of the ordinary for my selfie/outfit/travel-littered feed, and then did a poll. “Do you guys want to see more posts like this, where I share what I’m thinking on/writing about?” The options were “yes” or “meh.”

The yes crowd won out, but they weren’t all excited about it. I got a DM from a friend who was outraged that people had voted “no”… and that I had even asked. My thoughts were so valuable, she told me, why would I ask that?

The answer is very simple: in a world where we have to constantly evolve to keep everyone’s attention, there is always going to be a struggle between “Who am I?” and “Who do you want me to be?”


The post Social Media Polling for a Sense of Self appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Thinking About Adulthood at Just 20 Years Old

Youth Radio - April 7, 2019 - 8:00am

As a young person turning 21 soon, I should feel like a full-fledged adult, but I know I’m far from it.

Seeing people achieve success when they’re young paints an unrealistic standard. It’s so hard to be successful these days so I’m gonna have to work really hard through my twenties to be self-sufficient and comfortable. That’s when I really will feel like an adult.

At other points in my life, the milestones came faster and I felt ready for them.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a teenager so bad, so it was a big deal when I turned 13.

When I turned 18, I was excited to be a voter. But it was Trump’s inauguration day –– a rude awakening for me. I felt even further away from the things I want to achieve.  

Two years later, it’s not any better. While other young people in their 20s might be excited to be partying, I’m worried about what’s to come. I won’t really feel grown up til I’ve made it. I’d love a steady paycheck, and my own house. As Jennifer Garner taught me, I can’t wait to be 30, flirty, and thriving.   

The post Thinking About Adulthood at Just 20 Years Old appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

For Young Voters, It’s About More Than Mueller

Youth Radio - April 5, 2019 - 4:59pm

Young voters are unlikely to change their opinions on President Donald Trump based on the results of the special counsel’s investigation into his involvement in Russian interference in our 2016 elections, according to students  and researchers who track the youth vote.

According to the minimal information that’s been made public so far, Robert Mueller’s 22-month investigation did not find evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. In his letter to congress, Trump-appointed Attorney General William Barr, said he found insufficient evidence to establish that Trump had committed that offense. Before his nomination, Barr called the investigation into obstruction-of-justice “fatally misconceived.”

“Regardless of what the report was going to find, I still feel like there are legitimate criticisms of Trump to be made, so it doesn’t affect how I’ll vote in 2020,” Hadeel Eltayeb, a New York University student, told YR Media.

She thinks her peers will hold similar views.

“Those who are fans of Trump are only going to feel vindicated by this, and those who aren’t are unlikely to change their minds because Russia isn’t the biggest reason people are opposed to him,” she said.

Young Trump backers, like Georgetown student Bobby Vogel, are saying the same.

“I was not surprised by the findings,” Vogel said. “But I read an article saying few voters said the investigation results would affect their opinions.”

Researchers largely agree.

A CNN Poll released on March 27 found only 13 percent of Americans say the Mueller report will affect their 2020 vote. Seven percent are more likely to support Trump based on the findings, whereas 6 percent are less likely to do so.

“Unless we really see a big fight from the Dems and some sort of additional legal action or investigation that carries through closer to November 2020, I don’t think it will directly impact youth in their choices,” said Sarah Yerkes, a Carnegie Endowment Fellow who has studied youth voting patterns.

What is likely to have an impact on young voters in 2020 is 2016 Russian interference more generally, even if Trump hasn’t been implicated.

As of this writing, this is still very much a developing story, especially since members of Mueller’s team have gone public with criticisms of Barr’s handling of their investigation.

Brandon Shi, a Columbia University student, said previous Russian involvement in U.S. elections will make him “more mindful about disinformation on social media.”

Eighteen-year-old Thacher Smith, who will be casting his first vote in a presidential election in 2020, told YR Media, “Russian intervention certainly affects [my] vote in the 2020 election as it creates a greater sense of urgency to preserve the principles of our democracy.”

But not all young people will feel that way, Yerkes believes.

“This additional element of uncertainty, the Russian interference, will likely lead some young people to stay home in 2020,” she said.

Abby Kiesa, the director of impact at CIRCLE — a Tufts University center that studies young voters and civic engagement — also thinks the interference may deter some young people from participating.

“It doesn’t lend a lot of support for people who think the system doesn’t facilitate as much change as they want,” she said.

But she also believes there are a lot of factors that go into people’s attitudes towards voting. The impact that Russian interference has on an individual young voter’s outlook “could be different depending on how a young person already views civic engagement or has participated themselves,” according to Kiesa.

Looking beyond Russian interference as an issue, some young people are saying the record-setting diversity of the new Congress is what will bring them to the voting booth in 2020.

“For the first time this year, I saw my ‘Palestinian-American-ness’ represented whole heartedly in American politics,” 19-year-old Anais Amer said. “I will vote in this coming 2020 election to make sure that this continues.”

Voting-age Americans under the age of 40 — Gen Z and millennials — will make up nearly 40 percent of the electorate in 2020 according to Pew. Targeting them and winning their support will present a unique challenge to an aging field of candidates.

The post For Young Voters, It’s About More Than Mueller appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

‘It Feels More Real’ — Life on a Border the President Threatened to Close

Youth Radio - April 4, 2019 - 4:29pm

President Trump announced on Thursday that he won’t, in the immediate term, close the U.S.-Mexico border but instead will give Mexico a “one-year warning” before taking action. This message comes after Trump had taken to Twitter earlier to announce his frustration with Mexico’s failure to end illegal immigration.

….through their country and our Southern Border. Mexico has for many years made a fortune off of the U.S., far greater than Border Costs. If Mexico doesn’t immediately stop ALL illegal immigration coming into the United States throug our Southern Border, I will be CLOSING…..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 29, 2019

….the Border, or large sections of the Border, next week. This would be so easy for Mexico to do, but they just take our money and “talk.” Besides, we lose so much money with them, especially when you add in drug trafficking etc.), that the Border closing would be a good thing!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 29, 2019

This isn’t the first time POTUS has made these types of threats. Last year in response to the migrant caravan, Trump initially threatened to close the southern border but instead sent thousands of troops there to strengthen security.

To get a sense of how Trump’s latest threats are playing out in a border town, YR Media reached out to 24-year-old Estefania Castillo, whom we’d spoken to last year. Castillo lives in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and is a graduate student at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). She said it’s difficult to stay calm in light of the threats that feel more real and scarier to her this time around.

Castillo’s school took the president’s most recent threats seriously. They issued two letters to students expressing their support and notifying them of resources like housing, free food and “virtual counseling and immigration advising for those who are unable to come to the campus.”

Antonio Villasenor-Baca: When was that letter sent out and was it sent to the whole university or just to international students?

Estefania Castillo: There were two letters sent out. There was one by [UTEP President] Dr. Natalicio on Monday [April 1st]. That [letter] was sent out to the entire university. It [said] that UTEP was going to try to support international students as much as possible, offer free housing and free meals if need be. Then the same day, like an hour or two later, we got an email from the Office of International Programs. It gave instructions for Mexican students about what to do. It gave a website [that tracks] bridge closures. It also gave you a hotline and an email to contact if students get stranded or can’t cross. They told us a list of documents that we should be carrying around 24/7 just to avoid any problems. And it also said to ‘exercise good judgment because you are guests of Homeland Security.’

Excerpt from a letter from UTEP President to students, April 1 2019

AVB:  What went through your mind when you read those emails?

EC: The fact that the university sent an email made me really anxious and nervous because if [the school] sent an email, it must be something more real. It’s not just the president [of the United States] saying stuff, it actually may happen and the university is preparing for it. The fact that [UTEP] has places to stay, I mean it’s good to know just in case of emergencies, but It makes me worry. There are a lot of us that cross everyday, so I don’t think they have enough rooms for everyone. But it’s good that they have these free resources because obviously not everyone could afford to stay at a hotel or keep buying food. It’s nice to have the support of the university.  But at the end of the day it’s still scary.

AVB: So this varies from last time?

EC: This time it feels a lot more real for a few reasons. The last time it was just rumors here and there. The lines [at the border] got a little bit longer but not the way that it has now. Last time the express line was the same. Now, every morning I’ve been doing at least thirty minutes to cross. I mean that’s the express lane, that shouldn’t take you more than five minutes. The lines on the bridge are getting ridiculously long.The bridges, they closed off a lot of lanes because they have barbed wire and fences and there are CBP [Customs and Border Protection] officers everywhere. So it feels a lot more like they’re on high alert.

AVB: Are you planning on taking up the offer for one of these rooms?

EC: Fortunately, I have a lot of friends that live in El Paso and they have offered for me to stay there. I have one particular friend, she’s my best friend, who told me ‘You can stay here as long as you need.’ So I had already made arrangements. I’m leaving a bag of clothing with her, like essentials, a toothbrush, pajamas, some jeans and t-shirts just in case I get stuck here.


The post ‘It Feels More Real’ — Life on a Border the President Threatened to Close appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Playlist: Mid-Tempo Monsters

Youth Radio - April 3, 2019 - 6:39pm

Explore the trippy world of heavy bass music and mid-tempo madness with these monster tracks from our favorite artists in this emerging subgenre. Fusing early 00’s electro and industrial techno sonics with trap and dubstep these producers are pioneering the new sound and style of bass music and we are HYPED for the future of this new genre.

The post Playlist: Mid-Tempo Monsters appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Asha Imuno Discusses the Importance of Honesty with “Full Disclosure”

Youth Radio - April 1, 2019 - 4:35pm
Photo: Ivan Davalos / Edit: Asha Imuno

Asha Imuno wants to be known as an artist of the new age. The Moreno Valley, CA, native dropped his debut project “Full Disclosure” this past February. Imuno is part of the musical collective Raised By The Internet, which was formed in 2017 over social media. Imuno writes and composes music himself. He cites his musical background as always being a constant in his life, especially with his history of being a part of band in middle school and his keen interest in music composition. Just as the title suggests, “Full Disclosure” is an honest and vulnerable body of music. He doesn’t shy away from any topic, interweaving each song with his own experiences and genuine outlook on what life is like, as well as the promise of integrity and trueness.

After listening to his music, I found myself interested in not only the songs but in the artist behind them as well. I was impressed with how open he was about what was personal to him and how he framed it in such a way that anyone could relate to it. I recently got the opportunity to interview Asha, where we discussed vulnerability and the importance of self-expression, and how he utilizes them as tools of interconnection.

What does your musical background look like?

I grew up around music. From a young age, I was really interested in music and composition. Throughout middle school, I was a band kid and that was my thing for a while. In my freshman year of high school, I quit band to focus more on composition, starting with jazz and classical stuff, and then transitioning into R&B and then into hip-hop.

When did you first realize music was something that you wanted to do?

I think even when people started to take it seriously, I still wasn’t thinking about it as something that could become a really serious, professional thing. And it was only when I streamed my first single on all platforms and people responded to it in the biggest way, I think that was when I first realized that it could be something that I could do as a career.

I saw that you’re a part of the collective Raised By The Internet. Could you explain how that came to be?

So I found Jelani, the founding member of Raised By The Internet, just on Instagram while scrolling and I instantly really liked his music. And I started to take inspiration from it and we started exchanging messages back and forth, and he found my music after a while and really liked it too. He asked me if I wanted to join a collective and introduced me to everybody and I think a couple days after I joined the collective, we started working on our first project and finished it in like a week, and put it out not too long after that. And the rest is history.

Photo: Ivan Davalos / Edit: Asha Imuno

If you could, how would you describe yourself as an artist?

As an artist, I think I would describe myself as honest because that’s really the most important thing to me. With the music that I make, at least, is just being honest about my experiences, emotions, and just everything in my life. I like to let it bleed into my writing and even in my composition, structure, chords, everything. I just like to put myself on the table.

When writing a song, where do you get the most inspiration from?

I find the most inspiration from little everyday things, like normal, plain parts of my day. I feel like a lot of times in music, the goal is to be as dramatic and theatrical as possible but I like to write from the perspective of the average person, so that it’s something people can relate to. But I still try to take an in-depth approach to explaining my emotions and everything, so sometimes it’s the more dramatic parts of life. But for the most part, I take the most inspiration from regular stuff, things around me.

What does your songwriting process usually look like?

For the most part, it varies case to case. Sometimes I’ll just out and about and think of a bar and write it down, and come back to it later. Or sometimes, those notes just get lost and I never come back to it. But other times, I’ll sit at my desk with a clear goal and know that I’m gonna do with a song and it almost never goes exactly how I thought it would. Depending on whether I’m chopping a sample or playing chords, whatever it is. I might start with drums first and I could click the wrong sound and end up interested in a totally different kind of song and it changes everything.

Where did the idea for your album “Full Disclosure” first come from?

I had the idea of making an album in general for a really long time. I tried a bunch of different concepts and they just didn’t feel quite right, because I felt like I was trying to do too much for my first release. And I eventually just realized that the best idea would probably just be to introduce myself. I feel like the goal of “Full Disclosure” is to be vulnerable and open with the listener, and I feel like it’s pretty transparent. And that was my goal.

I love that you just mentioned being vulnerable because on your song “February Fever,” you sing about confessing your love to someone who then doesn’t take it seriously. Why do you think it’s important to showcase vulnerability in music?

I think vulnerability is important in music because real people are vulnerable and it humanizes not just me as an artist, but it humanizes struggle and makes it something that’s not so rare. It makes people feel like their experience isn’t something that just falls on them. And I feel like at the same time, it helps people become more attached to me as a character and as an artist because they can see themselves in the work that I do.

Photo: Ivan Davalos / Edit: Asha Imuno

What has been your favorite part of making music?

My favorite part of making music has been how unexpected collaborating could be or how spontaneous it could be. Songs like “New Eyes” on my album, that song was supposed to be just me, a cool little whatever song. But out of nowhere, I got the idea to put Damian on the song, and it took a long time but after he got everything back to me, it was a completely different concept it felt like. I think as a whole that’s the most fun, when somebody can share an idea with you and give birth to something that didn’t exist before.

What do you hope people take away while listening to this album?

I hope people take away a sense of self acceptance and willingness to be more vulnerable. Because there’s moments of extreme joy on the album, extreme despair, and love and stuff like that. And those emotions wouldn’t have been as visible had I veiled the way that I felt or chose to write about something that was cooler. I hope that people feel me as an artist and have a better understanding of what I plan to do in the future.

The post Asha Imuno Discusses the Importance of Honesty with “Full Disclosure” appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

On Quality Higher Education: An Essay in Three Installments, Part 3

Howard Gardner - April 1, 2019 - 12:08pm

To Our Readers: After some reflection, we’ve decided to violate the “rules of the road” with respect to the preferred length of blogs, and we are releasing the second and third blogs in this series at the same time. As always, we welcome and learn from your comments, sent either as notes to us or posted here on the site.

by Howard Gardner and Wendy Fischman

Re-Embracing the Liberal Arts: The Pivotal Roles of On-Boarding and Intertwining

In the previous blog, we called for an affirmation—or, more properly, a reaffirmation—of the academic and cognitive aims of higher education. Why is it challenging to re-embrace fully the core of a liberal arts education? We have identified two principal reasons.

One reason is mission sprawl. As one learns about so-called liberal arts institutions today, one swiftly encounters a wide range of aspirations, many of which have little to do with academic or even cognitive aspirations. Colleges are expected to produce good citizens; kind and empathic human beings; happy persons who are self-realized; individuals who want to lead the world, change the world, be good team players, make the world better; individuals who are healthier in mind and body. We admire these aspirations. But it’s clear that no institution can achieve all of these goals (see our recent blog on takeaways for college presidents), and it’s not at all clear that colleges—as campuses, as institutions, indeed as economic enterprises—can or should aim for all of these goals.

Indeed, we contend that at most one other goal can be prioritized, and that goal needs to be thoughtfully integrated with the aforementioned academic and cognitive mission.

The second reason stems from the personal challenges that face many students. When we began our own study some years ago, we were completely unprepared for two major findings across a deliberately disparate set of campuses. We found that challenges of mental health were encountered everywhere, and were, for whatever reasons, on the increase. And across campuses, we found as well (and presumably relatedly) that a large number of students reported their feeling that they did not belong; they felt alienated in one or another way—from the academic agenda, from their peers, from the overall institutions. And to our surprise, this alienation proved more prominent among graduating students than among incoming students!

Of course, colleges did not arise chiefly to address these personal issues, any more than they arose to increase voting or encourage fraternizing or to better the neighborhood or engender personal happiness. But it is simply not possible for colleges to address the principal educational mission we’ve assigned them if a significant proportion of students can’t get past their own feelings of alienation or their mental health challenges.

Indeed, these challenges need to be addressed upfront for students at the beginning of the college experience.

Onboarding

Four years can pass quickly. If there is any chance that colleges are able to address and achieve the assignment that we have proposed, they need initially to carry out four important tasks.

First of all, they have to help students deal with their difficulties in health (physical as well as mental).

Second, they must provide suitable and appealing entries to the academic agenda (to prevent the drift away from academics that has been persuasively documented by Richard Arum and other scholars).

Third, students need to understand why they are being asked to study statistics, stylistics, historical or economic cycles, what the reasons are for reading original texts or carrying out laboratory experiments. They need to grasp that they are not being asked to remember the facts that they encounter but rather that they learn to think in the ways required by different disciplines.

And a fourth point: Schools need to develop courses and materials that invite students into the range of “ways of thinking”: problem solving, problem finding, and exhibiting knowledge that we have argued are the major, and perhaps the most powerful, reasons for offering non-vocational higher education. As we have sometimes put it, at this point in life students will be acquiring intellectual capital on which they can and should draw for the rest of their lives.

We propose that these onboarding experiences are the tasks primarily for the first year, but it may well be that students will need additional “onboarding” as they face new contexts—as they meet different people, choose majors and minors, and discover curiosities and passions. Importantly, new initiatives do not need to be created to help students onboard: the tasks can be and should be integrated into existing structures. And if after these efforts, students can truly not meet these challenges, with the help of teachers and appropriate institutional facilities and facilitators, they should not be enrolled in college at this time in their lives

Resistances to Our Proposed Program

Most institutions of higher learning do not embrace, either explicitly or implicitly, the focused agenda that we’ve proposed. We can identify several reasons:

Unreasonable ambitions. Some schools, including ones with which we have been closely associated, believe that they can and should achieve a wide range of goals in four years. And perhaps with some students—the same ones or different ones—they can claim across-the-board success. But it is far more likely that in the perhaps well-motivated effort to achieve a wider range of goals, they in fact realize none of them or achieve weak and hard-to-document effects.

Indeed, if non-academic goals—say, social or emotional development—are to be reached, they are likely to be reached as a result of the presence of appealing role models on campus and the way the institution itself is run and addresses challenges. If consistent modeling is ingrained in the culture of an institution, most students can be expected to live up to these high standards. To be sure, mental health and belonging issues may need to be specifically supported by trained professionals (either on or off campus).

Pleasing many masters. Even those leaders who realize that they cannot be all things to all people are reluctant to narrow their goals. The scholarly focus that we endorse places at-risk the loyalty and support of different constituents, ranging from parents and student applicants, to the varying agendas of alums, trustees, donors, and the wider society. Like politicians campaigning for office, campus leaders declare a wide range of promises, but know that once in office, these cannot really be achieved. (One could make the same criticism of those involved college admissions, but that is a topic for another day.)

And we have not even mentioned the securing of a good job, often foremost in the minds of what “the sector” has come to term the “customers.”

Confusion about the purpose of any institution. To be successful as an organization, workplace, or profession, it’s important to know one’s mission and to keep that mission sharply in focus. Mission sprawl can be fatal.

Of all the institutions in our society, (and here we have in mind American society), only our schools and colleges are expected to pick up all of the pieces that have not been assumed by other institutions—nuclear and extended family, religious institutions, civil society, community centers, the media, profit-making companies, and the like. And because (as a society) we are not able to orchestrate these various entities, we end up saddling our colleges with the challenge of leading young people from adolescence to adulthood.

It’s an assignment that no institution can achieve—and especially not one whose avowed mission should be a focus on the cultivation of the mind.

Intertwining Goals and Means

We hope to have made the case for the centrality of an academic agenda—what might historically have been dubbed the “University of Chicago” model. But we now want to allow that there may be a “happy medium” between a sole focus on academics, on the one hand, and mission sprawl, on the other hand. Having prioritized the academic mission, it should also be possible to carefully intertwine the academics with one additional mission for a campus.

Based on our own work over the last quarter century, we would propose—as an additional goal—the development of a strong ethical sense. Indeed, we have written extensively about the importance of “good work” and how educational institutions can help orient students toward that goal. But there are other viable missions—for example, civic, religious, spiritual, and communal. 

However—and this is a big reservation—we don’t favor an additional goal unless it is tied—indeed, integrated or intertwined—with the academic program. Rather than pulling students in a different direction, this additional mission should be encountered and embodied across the required curriculum. So, to be specific, if a school prioritizes the nurturing of ethical professionals, ethical issues should arise and be addressed in classes, be they literary, historical, psychological, or “hard science.” Or, by the same token, if a school stipulates the goal of nurturing good citizens, questions of citizenship should be encountered in literary works like An Enemy of the People, history classes on the French Revolution, economics or psychology classes that weigh the advantages of “opt in” vs “opt out” choices. Put differently, the academic and civic or ethical missions should reinforce one another, rather than pull in different directions.

Though each is worth a separate posting if not an article or book, we want to place a few additional issues on the table.

Challenges in Levels of Academic Development. Even if our general vision is accepted, a major challenge needs to be recognized. When they enter college, students may have quite different degrees of knowledge and skills with reference to the academic requirements—both in regard to specific topics and with respect to overall level of analytic and communicative skills. This fact has long been recognized. It was memorably summarized in William Perry’s model of intellectual development during the college years and has recently been poignantly described in Anthony Jack’s The Privileged Poor.

It would be highly optimistic, if not delusional, to believe that these differences can be washed away or eliminated over the college span. But the clear goal of college should be to increase the analytic and performance skills across the board, so that all students end up much stronger than they were at the time of matriculation (we now call this Higher Education Capital, or HEDCAP). Moreover, having moved in a positive direction, it should be possible for students to continue to enhance the key skills post-college, whether in a professional program, on the job, or in their leisure.

Campus life. Most of our work has centered on schools that require, or at least feature, residential life. A “24-7 experience,” in which students have the opportunity to learn from (and sometimes live with) peers and on-campus adults, constitutes a powerful treatment. Undoubtedly, engagement in campus life and residential life provides unique experiences—for example, bonding with peers from different backgrounds, learning about new interests as a result of student clubs and organizations, and taking responsibility for the community as a whole. But at the same time this treatment can work to reinforce the academic goals, it can also compete with them, or even, in the least happy occasion, undermine them.

In brief, campus life should enhance the academic experience, but not overshadow it. Far too often, students focus on social and extra-curricular objectives as a reason to go to college. However, the services and the resources on campus can institute powerful levers in one or another direction. And even more powerful, are the role models and exemplars on campus—professors, administrators, or those who provide services which many students may take for granted, but whose efforts should be acknowledged and, as appropriate, celebrated as well.

Vocational education. It’s fair to ask about the place of vocational education in the picture that we have sketched. We have no objection to schools that describe themselves as training individuals in business, marketing, journalism, pharmacy, or nursing. If they succeed in achieving their avowed goals, they have handled the mission challenge satisfactorily and perhaps enviably.

The question arises as to whether such a vocational school or program can also achieve the liberal arts goals that we have described. In the best instance, we believe that they can. Indeed, we cherish the memorable words of a senior at the Olin College of Engineering who said, “I am achieving the best of both worlds: a liberal arts education and an engineering degree.” But to embody the intertwined double helix of vocational training and liberal arts mind-opening is a formidable challenge.

Why now? In writing these words, for the most part, we believe that we are presenting ideas that are sensible, indeed non-controversial. And we acknowledge that we may be preaching to the choir; individuals who read this blog are likely to be in the field of education and to acknowledge, if not to endorse, the merits to what we are saying.

But we are also writing at a unique time in American (and perhaps world) history. For the first time, large portions of the population believe that higher education is not worth the money or, even more depressingly, that it is bad for the nation. Just why this is so is a complicated matter, one on which far wiser observers have amply commented.

At such times, institutions are tested as they have not been before. And higher education faces a clear choice: the sector can continue to claim, against the evidence and against plausibility, that it can repair the various fault lines in the society. Or it can reassert the major reason for its existence and strive to show that, in the present challenging climate, it can achieve what it was designed to achieve. If it fails, the whole sector is likely to be so fundamentally altered that the vision we’ve described will have disappeared—and perhaps for a very long time.

© 2019 Wendy Fischman and Howard Gardner

Categories: Blog

On Quality Higher Education: An Essay in Three Installments, Part 2

Howard Gardner - April 1, 2019 - 9:31am

To Our Readers: After some reflection, we’ve decided to violate the “rules of the road” with respect to the preferred length of blogs, and we are releasing the second and third blogs in this series at the same time. As always, we welcome and learn from your comments, sent either as notes to us or posted here on the site.

by Howard Gardner and Wendy Fischman

Beyond the Mellon Papers: Our Aspirations for an Education in The Liberal Arts

In the previous blog, we described the goals of an ongoing comprehensive study of education in the liberal arts as well as the challenges entailed in securing reliable evidence of progress in realizing these goals.

The Mellon papers illustrate in graphic detail that the term “liberal arts” can have many meanings. Liberal arts can foreground different kinds of institutionalization and implementation, for different purposes and with different possible results, immediately, in the short run, and in the longer run. How can one make sense of this lexical, vocational, and “deliverable” tangle?

Our reading of the Mellon papers has stimulated us to propose our own vision of an education in the liberal arts. Our vision can be stated succinctly, but its realization and justification requires considerable unpacking.

The principal purpose of a liberal arts education should be the achievement of academic and cognitive growth. Any other purpose needs to be deeply intertwined with these academic and cognitive priorities. By the conclusion of a four-year education in an institution that calls itself a liberal arts school, or that claims to infuse liberal arts significantly into a required curriculum, all graduates should have been exposed to a range of ways of thinking that scholars and other serious thinkers have developed over the decades, sometimes over centuries. Students should have ample practice in applying several ways of thinking; and they should be able to demonstrate, to a set of competent assessors, that they can analyze and apply these ways of thinking. Put specifically and succinctly, graduates should be able to read and critique literary, historical, and social scientific texts; exhibit mathematical, computational, and statistical analytic skills; and have significant practical “hands on” immersion in at least one scientific and one artistic area.

To be clear, this portrait of a liberal arts education is by no means novel; it is reflected in the curriculum developed at a range of institutions at the end of the 19th century, described in Harvard’s influential Red Book at the end of World War II; embodied in “gen ed” and “distribution” requirements at hundreds, if not thousands, of institutions; and foregrounded in the statements and documents of major organizations of higher education, such as the American Association of Colleges and Universities, the Council of Independent Colleges, the COHFE and Ivy League schools, and analogous consortia.

Why is it important, indeed essential, once again to make the claim for the priority of the academic and cognitive enterprise? Our own seven-year study of a range of institutions documents that this priority is all too often honored in the breach, rather than in the observance. Majors and distribution requirements may persist, but the primary academic and cognitive purposes are rarely highlighted and, all too frequently, they are ignored altogether. Instead, as a sector, those of us in non-vocational institutions have gotten sidetracked, caught up in talking about developing students’ independence, self-realization, happiness, character, and ability to gain the knowledge and skills required for their chosen occupations (topics foregrounded in several of the Mellon papers). Of the 1000 students whom we interviewed at length on ten disparate campuses, depressingly few report the experience of exploring new topics and acquiring new ways of thinking as central to their college experience. It is because so many institutions of higher education have undergone “mission sprawl” that we now argue vociferously for getting back on track—staying “true” to the original intention of the liberal arts (and of the liberal arts and sciences).

Even if we re-embrace this classic goal, such a program raises many questions—about additional goals, diverse student bodies, and significant obstacles that individuals may not have faced at earlier times. In the third, final blog in this series, we address a congeries of these issues. We then offer our own suggestions about how best to reaffirm and realize the goals of a liberal arts education in the 21st century.

© 2019 Wendy Fischman and Howard Gardner

Categories: Blog

Nude, Trans and Empowered

Youth Radio - March 29, 2019 - 6:25pm

For these models, posing is personal. Beyond making it as a model, they’re striving to get rid of negative stigmas about trans and non-binary body types in society.

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Categories: Blog

Playlist: My Dad’s Music

Youth Radio - March 29, 2019 - 5:50pm

When I was younger, my dad played only one genre of music at all times. Salsa. Naturally, I developed a resentment towards the genre as a whole, since it was all I heard. Growing up around kids roasting me for different parts of my cultural identity (such as salsa), I grew astray from the music. But as I grew up, I began accepting my culture and being proud of my identity. Now, I hold the genre close to my heart. Here’s a list of songs that remind me of my dad and some songs he always used to play.

Johnny Colon – Son Montuno Joe Cuba Sextet – Cuenta Bien, Cuenta Bien Oscar D’León – Lloraras The Brooklyn Sounds – Mirame San Miguel Arcangel Cheo Feliciano – El Raton Pochi y su Cocoband – Salsa Con Coco Roberto Roena – Que Se Sepa Afro-Cuban All Stars – Amor Verdadero Johnny Colon & Orchestra – Mira Ven Aca Willie Colón – La Murga

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Categories: Blog

This is My Self-Care Routine — What’s Yours?

Youth Radio - March 27, 2019 - 6:26pm

After two Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivors died in apparent suicides in the same week, young people are talking about resilience and self-care, #MySelfCareRoutine.  

In a series of tweets, Parkland survivor-turned-activist David Hogg sparked the conversation. 

QT this with your self-care routine so we can all have a conversation about what self-care looks like, which is different for everyone

What self-care looks like for me is

-cooking
-watching the office
-listening to Lo-Fi
-surfing
-flying drones
-gardening #MySelfCareRoutine

— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) March 24, 2019

Hogg urged politicians to spend money on school mental health services instead of arming teachers. 

Stop saying “you’ll get over it.”

You don’t get over something that never should have happened because those that die from gun violence are stolen from us not naturally lost.

Trauma and loss don’t just go away, you have to learn to live with it through getting support.

— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) March 24, 2019

People across the country are adding their own #MySelfCareRoutine posts, sharing how they cope when things get tough. 

#MySelfCareRoutine looks like:

– working out
– playing the piano
– sharing with friends
– meditating when I can

We (and I especially) need to remember that if we can’t care for ourselves we can’t help anyone else https://t.co/WR7uxKsPq3

— Ethan Somers (@ethanjsomers) March 24, 2019

Best advice I ever got: Start the day by making your bed. For one, it means you got out of it. Secondly, it means no matter what crap life throws at you, you got one thing done today. And it encourages self. My daddy taught me that, the army taught me that and I’m passing it on.

— True Blood Net (@truebloodnet) March 24, 2019

#MySelfCareRoutine

-bubble bath
-spa day w/ massage
-dance party
-journal
-carefully chosen tv show
-angry cry w/ prayer
-face mask
-Pinterest
-walk/run/yoga
-look for beauty
-sit or walk in nature
-coffee or smoothie
-read
-sleep or nap
-sit/rest in the sun
-fresh sheets https://t.co/HFsEeIgKRL

— Jennifer Smith (@JenRachelSmith) March 24, 2019

My self-care routine
-stream feel good shows/movies I’ve already watched
-take a nap with the kitties
-clean up around the house/laundry
-see a friend or family member
-personal hygiene/dress nice#MySelfCareRoutine

— juliet (@julelouise) March 24, 2019

When it comes to my self-care routine, I like focusing on things that make me feel productive. Things like cleaning my room, going to the gym or practicing a forgotten hobby make me feel better. By doing something to improve myself, I can channel my stress into something positive.

Sometimes, you have to pause and ask yourself if you’re okay. If the answer is no, here are some suggestions people on Twitter are sharing. 

This helps me! #MySelfCareRoutine pic.twitter.com/zThuBE3Wlq

— Christine Parker (@ceemarieparker) March 24, 2019

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

#MySelfCareRoutine involves:
• being outside with my soccer ball
•reading
• listening to music
•laughing while watching my favourite comedies
•watching Scooby doo
It’s so important yet so often neglected to look after oneself. We must ALL make it a priority. #selfcare

— Kristen J. Prior (@KristenPrior) March 25, 2019

my self care routine (not in order and not always helpful. but i constantly try my best!!)
– journaling
– facetiming a friend
– spoken word and poetry
– counseling!!!
– practicing gratuity
– exercise
– calling my mom
– celebrating my small victories#MySelfCareRoutine https://t.co/r86Zz08bgJ

— kaylalala (@kayranguyen) March 25, 2019

#MySelfCareRoutine:

– working out, especially yoga
– Walking, especially with family
– talking to family and friends
– working, because I love it
– meditating
– cooking while listening to music This list evolves as I do

— Lisa Bishop (@lisabishop34) March 24, 2019


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Categories: Blog

Inside The Industry – Hunter Marshal

Youth Radio - March 27, 2019 - 5:43pm

In this week’s Inside The Industry, we meet Hunter Marshal, a very talented and hardworking individual in charge of Culture Marketing at Red Bull. He produces the Red Bull Music Presents shows and helps bring brand awareness to local artist communities. Hunter has been integral to the execution of numerous shows from artists like Kaytranada and Mr. Carmack to P-LO and ALLBLACK. Each of these shows has a story behind them — they celebrate the unique culture of different communities on the West Coast. In this interview, Hunter explains the ins and outs of his job, what it takes to throw a successful event, and gives out some free game to the youngsters.

EDEL: What is your job title and what are the main aspects of your job? Basically, what do you do?

HM: I work at Red Bull, the energy drink company, and my role is the Culture Marketing Manager for the Pacific Northwest. Basically, my job is kind of two parts — one, I produce all the Red Bull Music Presents shows for the Northwest. That would be Central California up to Seattle, Alaska, and Hawaii. Any of these shows that Red Bull does in terms of music or dance, I would be leading that with my team. We do a lot of emerging music shows, showcases, parties, concerts and work with local creatives in different markets to create these unique experiences. We did one in Oakland in July around the Oakland DJ community. [It focused around] the contribution of DJing [in] keeping Oakland’s music culture alive with the absence of live venues. We brought like six of the most influential DJ crews of the last five years from Oakland and did this celebration/dance party with them. It was two floors at Jeffrey’s Inner Circle in Downtown Oakland. [All the events] have a story like that. I had another one in December in the Bay with P-LO, called “Generations” which looked at the lineage and contributions of the Filipino American community to Bay Area music culture, history and broader hip hop culture. I did one in Hawaii with Kaytranada and Mr. Carmack celebrating the underground nightlife culture of Hawaii. We took over a warehouse and converted it into a one-night-only club. We’re taking these local storylines and creating unique experiences that are supposed to inspire and engage local music audiences.

So, that’s a big part of my job. The other part is bringing Red Bull into these different communities —- aligning our brand with the cool folks moving culture forward in their communities. At the end of the day, we’re promoting a product, but you know it’s really building brand awareness and credibility in these important communities for local scenes. So that’s what I do — creating shows and relationships on behalf of the brand.

EDEL: You also played a pivotal role on the Oakland Music Festival?

HM: Yes. I was part of the team that launched OMF in 2013. We launched over by the New Parish in Downtown Oakland and it had a indoor/outdoor stage with headliners like the Coup and Dam-Funk. We started there with about 700 people and then we ended up moving over to Franklin and Broadway where Pride is normally held. The next year, 2014, we had Dom Kennedy, SZA, SoSuperSam and Esta all before they popped off. So that was super tight.

I first came on to do marketing. I did all the marketing and PR for the first year and then the second year I took on booking as well. In 2015 we had Anderson .Paak and Goldlink and the festival kept growing, like to about 3,500 people.

I was also doing club promotion stuff at that time. I actually got my start in San Francisco. There was a club in the Mission called Som. I used to hella like going there. It was my favorite spot to go to. They posted on Facebook one day that they were looking for a social media intern so I hit them up and sent them my resumé. I ended up meeting the owner and his wife (this guy Kobo) and he kind of became my mentor. Then about a month in he hired me part-time to do all the social media, the newsletter and the calendar. He took me under his wing and helped me do my first event. He’s been my mentor ever since. Then he brought me into the festival (Oakland Music Festival). He ended up bowing out of the festival because he had a kid and so I took his spot. I did that for like five years and that’s where my story started and how I got to this point.

Photo from 2015 Oakland Music Fest

EDEL: Did you know that you were going to end up doing what you do now?

HM: I’ve always been a music head — in college I had a radio show and I was always the person that made CDs for people. So I knew music was something I was passionate about, but didn’t know where it would take me. I wasn’t really a performer or nothing — that’s not really my thing. I don’t necessarily like being on stage, but I still wanted to be around music. I worked on some concerts in college. I had a part time job promoting shows on campus and then I got a job at a PR agency. But when I came back to Oakland I got that internship at Som and it just built from there.

I think after I started doing more clubs and promotions, it began to feel like, “Oh this is something I could do.” I was doing a lot of social media for different spots like club 330 Ritch (which is no longer open). I was doing social media and digital marketing for them and finding gigs but it wasn’t a full-time thing. It was always a side gig for me while I had a regular job, but I wanted to do more of it. Then once I started on the festival (OMF), people really started to hit me for bigger projects and I started to think to myself, “I do want to try to make this my thing,” but it was a gradual process. It probably happened over about four or five years. I started to think, “Oh there is an opportunity to do music as a career even though I’m not necessarily a musician.” I tried to do promotion and social media freelance and do the festival but that was hard. Honestly, it’s a big gamble and there are a lot of expenses in doing music and event production, in particular festivals. I learned a lot from that — how to best throw an event, where I need to spend the money, what type of talent and audiences I need to be going after. I think I learned a lot from OMF but I honestly had to step away from it for awhile. I had been running it for a while and it hadn’t taken off the way that I hoped. Then Red Bull came knocking. They hit me up and offered me this position. So it just paid off after putting in that work.

EDEL: I feel like what you said about wanting to work in music, but not be a musician on stage, probably speaks to a lot of other individuals. So in regards to that, what are some other avenues people should explore if they want to work in music?

HM: Yeah, I have a lot of friends that work in music now and a lot of them aren’t on the stage. There is definitely a whole industry behind everything. It’s about really getting out there, finding out what you’re good at, what you want to do, where you can contribute and going after it. There’s a lot of opportunities, whether it’s doing production, working directly with artists, being a stagehand or actually doing event production. Or you could do music production and be behind the scenes creating the songs with artists or songwriters. You could write about music, you could do marketing, you could do talent buying. There’s a lot of different avenues to get involved in music without being a musician

The more you can do, the more valuable you’ll be to whoever you’re going to be working with and the more opportunities will come your way. A lot of times when you get into the industry you have to be able to wear multiple hats and do a lot of different things. You have to be able to fill a lot of holes on your own and then as you get bigger and more specialized, you can build out a team and start to focus on certain things.

EDEL: What are the pros and cons of your job?

HM: The pros, I get to throw shows. I’m about to go to Hawaii for a week to throw a party and get paid for it, that’s a pretty big pro. I get to travel a lot and work with a lot of different artists, especially up-and-coming artists and promoters that are really passionate about what they’re doing and about the music and their communities. Red Bull has really empowered me to give back. I think doing the Oakland Music Festival was a project of love trying to give back to my city and community, but I could only do so much as an independent person/independent business. But now with the backing of a larger corporation, I can do some of that same stuff and have a lot more to offer. So that’s a big pro for me.

The cons. I work all the time and travel too much sometimes. The stakes are very high and it can also be a high-stress job at times. I have to deal with a big corporate process for certain things. You have to stick to a process and get a lot of things approved — it’s not always the most efficient or fun part of the job but it comes with the perks that I get. Another con is I can’t work with everyone. Sometimes people think, “Oh you’re at Red Bull and you should be able to do whatever — you’ve got unlimited funds and you should be back in on my projects.” And in reality, I can’t always do that. Those are the things that are cons, but for the most part I love my job.

EDEL: What are the ingredients for a successful event?

HM: That’s a good question.

A successful event can be defined differently, it’s not necessarily always measured by having hella people show up. You can have a small event be the most impactful. Sometimes it’s better to do a smaller thing and do it really well. Just get the right folks in there and make the event something that’s either going to inspire them or connect them to each other. I always look at it like how are people going to remember this? How are they going to experience this? Is the goal to get people to just have fun? Or is it to get them to have a conversation about an important issue? Is it just for them to feel better and heal after something traumatic? Or is it to celebrate something beautiful? There are different objectives for every event. I think approaching an event with that in mind and being very deliberate makes it so that everything you do is focused on that intention. A lot of people are like, “Oh we’re going to throw this event,” and then they don’t necessarily plan or they don’t put as much thought into the execution and how people are going to perceive it. That’s where you can get into trouble. It’s really understanding who’s coming to the event and how you can do those extra things that they’re going to remember.

EDEL: If you can give one piece of advice to up-and-coming/young entrepreneurs in the same field, what would it be?

HM: I have a couple, actually. One, I would say just keep doing it. It’s tough to be an entrepreneur and it’s tough to be in the music industry but the people that make it are the people that keep going. Definitely keep pushing and learn from your mistakes. Get a mentor. It’s opened a lot of doors for me to have a key mentor but I really had multiple mentors, big homies and homegirls. I think that’s a key thing for a young entrepreneur or creative that want to really make it. It’s about finding those people that are going to help you understand how to grow and what you need to do. Then I would say build a team, you can’t really do a lot of this stuff on your own. Understand what your strengths are and what your weaknesses are and then find people that can help you fill the gaps. Even if you’re good at a lot of stuff, someone is going to be better at certain things and as you get bigger projects, you’re not gonna be able to do everything. That’s something that I’ve been learning and practicing more. As my projects get bigger and more complex and I have more of them, I realized that I can’t spend as much time on certain things. I need to see the bigger picture and make sure everything happens and coordinate the teams. I think if you spend time building a really solid team that you can you can grow with, you’re just going to be that much stronger. We had a situation for the festival where we grew really fast and then we had to scale back and regroup and get the team up so that we could grow again. So I’d say, just being perseverant and really dedicating yourself to it. That’s what I would I would tell any entrepreneur or creator.

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Categories: Blog

Why It’s So Hard to Erase Hate Speech Online

Youth Radio - March 27, 2019 - 12:17pm

A Netizen’s Guide to the 21st Century’s Eight Hells

The good news is that we’re not quite completely numb to horror.

That’s an odd way of starting off a piece about online hate speech and why it’s so hard to stamp out. But in the wake of a horrific act of violence that was born — at least in part — online, it is important to take a moment and acknowledge that we’re not numb.

As a species, humanity hasn’t accepted this cycle of hatred and violence as our final resting state, even if the online world we’ve built seems to be uniquely suited to spread anger, fear and hatred.

Some of that seems to be a function of human psychology: it’s always easier to believe something bad about yourself or someone else than it is to believe something good. Social media technology puts an emphasis on sharing, and the more you’re exposed to extreme ideas, the less resistance you have to sharing them.

What follows is a Dante-like walk through the 21st Century’s eight digital hells. Like the poet, we start at the outer gates of the inferno and make our way down to the pit itself.

Reddit

While no longer as “anything goes” as it once was, it’s still possible to find subreddits (translation for boomers: a forum dedicated to one topic moderated by a user) with a dark edge to them on the “front page of the internet.”

2015 saw a wave of forums shut down for harboring hate, and in the wake of the Charlottesville white supremacist rally that led to violence and death, the company began another purge. The 2015 purge led to a backlash against the company, but post-Charlottesville the culture has changed (in part because the worst offenders haven taken refuge in other online spaces).

Facebook

Everyone knows that conversations on Facebook can devolve into hate speech, but the social network doesn’t quite have the reputation of being where the worst of the worst organize.

Unfortunately with a user base that numbers in the billions and a reach that nearly encompasses the globe (China, not so much), even if a small percentage of malicious posts get through that can mean millions of users exposed to hate speech and plenty of hate groups connecting.

To deal with the glut of content, Facebook relies on outside contractors to review and moderate all kinds of nastiness. It’s a job that leads to burnout, and sometimes even the radicalization of the moderators. It turns out that if you look at posts about things like flat-earth conspiracies all day, you may start to believe them.

When Facebook has taken a stance on policing political speech in the past, they’ve been called out — particularly by right-wing politicians, who have a major talking point around conservatives being silenced online. Purges of political pages have lead to cries of censorship from both the left and right as Facebook tries to cull what it calls “coordinated inauthentic behavior”, aka getting rid of bots, trolls and other spammers who sway discourse through artificially-created volume.

This would be less of a problem if white nationalist terrorists, like the one who took so many lives in Christchurch, didn’t draw inspiration from mainstream right-wing politicians. Not to mention the fact that Facebook’s drive to get people to embrace livestreamed video enabled the Christchurch gunman to do exactly that until the feed was taken down. Unfortunately, it wasn’t fast enough, as the graphic video still spread prolificly. 

Twitter

Facebook may be the center of gravity online, but the bleeding edge of culture happens on Twitter. When it comes to hate groups, the company has long had a problem — some of it technical, some seemingly a matter of will — with dealing with the worst offenders.

Twitter, after all, is where public shaming and harassment campaigns are a daily occurrence. There isn’t a part of the political spectrum that isn’t guilty of brigading users for one reason or another. But the presence of neo-Nazis and radical anti-feminists on the platform have led to cultural firestorms that have largely set the tone for the cultural conversation.

Meanwhile, just last week Republican Congressman Devin Nunes sued the company for $250 million for allowing parody accounts like @DevinCow, to mock him. Lawsuits like this can have a chilling effect on the company’s moderation policies, and could lead to Twitter clamping down on political speech across the board. That, or back away from doing any moderation at all if it is deemed less likely to lead to costly lawsuits.

YouTube

At this point in its life, YouTube is practically a utility. So much video is uploaded onto YouTube each minute that it would take many lifetimes to watch it all, let alone moderate it.

To organize it, the company turns to algorithms. Not just so that there are nice buckets of content, but so that people keep watching video after video. All so that YouTube can show you five seconds worth of an ad you can’t skip through.

As it turns out, this incentive to keep people watching is also a great tool for radicalizing people politically, or organizing child porn rings in comments sections. By creating a system that values similarity — you liked this, and so did someone who liked something else you liked, so maybe you’ll like this other thing they liked — YouTube has basically unlocked the internet’s id.

And then there is the simple fact that YouTube is home to all kinds of garden variety hate — from crappy comments to hours-long screeds over genre movies. On YouTube, cultural warfare is entertainment, and that entertainment leads to big bucks for a few content creators and billions for Google. It certainly doesn’t help YouTube when its biggest star is name-checked in terrorist screeds — whether that name check was sincere, malicious or something else entirely. It still happened, and it makes the company look like it is at best a clueless pusher of the worst aspects of humanity.

Discord

Discord is the glue that holds many communities together, with a user base that revolves around gaming. Discord offers voice chat and instant messaging and runs on just about everything this side of an internet-connected toaster. There are more than 200 million users of Discord as of December 2018, if Wikipedia is to be believed.

Discord the company has become more proactive about shutting down servers where hate groups congregate — the software was used by the organizers of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, which led to action by the company. However Discord’s greatest strengths — the ease of setting up a community, consistent user identity across servers, and searchable public servers — is fully exploitable by those looking to create boltholes and for recruiting vulnerable individuals into extremist thought. Which is why we find Discord here, just next to YouTube.

Stamping out servers full of trolls and white supremacists can be a game of whack-a-mole. One where it isn’t always possible to see the critters if they don’t want to be found.

Gab

Born in part as a protest to perceived bias by Twitter against conservative voices, Gab was created as a an alternative to the microblogging site. It became a go-to platform for the full spectrum of the far right: from hard-core conservatives all the way out to neo-Nazis.

Under the banner of free speech, you can find all manner hate speech, and the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies Gab as the platform that radicalized the man who attacked a Pittsburgh synagogue last October. While Gab claims to have 850,000 registered users, the SPLC asked social media analysis site Storyful to look into that number. They found that just “19,526 unique usernames had posted content” in a one-week period in January 2019. 

Gab’s reputation for being ground zero for some of the most radical right-wing extremists has led to it having problems with host and payment companies. Still, while Gab is small, its community has managed to have a disproportionate impact on the world through the violent acts of its most unhinged members. A key difference between Gab and the other social media companies mentioned is that they don’t appear to be phased at all by the fact that people are being radicalized on their site.

8chan

The image board site for people who are too extreme for 4chan’s anonymous threads. 4chan used to be the bottom rung of the internet before you had to spin up a Tor router and make for the “dark web,” but 8chan is now the internet’s filthy truck stop toilet. You might think that’s an insult, but honestly that’s putting it mildly. And an 8chan member would likely be flattered, right before they (GRAPHIC DESCRIPTION DELETED).

8chan ethos revolves around a radical approach to free speech that is buried deep in the internet’s DNA. Shock and grotesqueries have long been a currency — particularly amongst young men and adolescent boys —online. Yet gallows humor and a thirst for being desensitized to the worst that humanity has created can make for a feedback loop that makes radical juvenilia indistinguishable from political extremism. At a certain point, it no longer matters if someone is spreading hate memes for the lulz or to terrify others. What matters is the impact.

Dark Web

Everything we’ve walked through so far is fairly easily accessible online. If you know your way around a search engine — and most netizens do — you can find these sites and services. Odds are you found this article ON one of those services.

But there is another layer: the “dark web.”

Not so much a place as an idea, the “dark web” refers to all the sites, chat rooms, and little spaces online that aren’t publicly accessible. The dark matter of the online world, the “dark web” requires the use of services like Tor anonymity software to access an alternate universe of content.

What’s out there varies wildly, and it’s a mirror of the vanilla internet. It’s also where hate groups would slip away to if by some fiat of governmental or industry action all the Nazis and ISIS types were banned from the publicly-accessible net.

There’s a tradeoff to that idea, of course: by being forced out of the daylight, it will be harder for those groups to recruit from places like YouTube and Discord. It will also be harder for them to be monitored.

The post Why It’s So Hard to Erase Hate Speech Online appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Remix Your Life Artist Spotlight: $hakon

Youth Radio - March 26, 2019 - 6:10pm
OAKLAND RAPPER $HAKON IS A PART OF THE “AT THE MOMENT” MIXTAPE — NOW AVAILABLE ON ALL STREAMING PLATFORMS

The post Remix Your Life Artist Spotlight: $hakon appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

How Privilege Gets You into College

Youth Radio - March 26, 2019 - 12:50pm

The college admissions cheating scandal is making headlines, but we want to talk about another way people have been using their privilege to get into colleges for decades. Seth Marceau sat down with Ivy League grad and writer Taylor Crumpton to talk about her experience navigating the Ivies as a black woman and her thoughts on legacy admission policies.

The post How Privilege Gets You into College appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Bay Word of the Day: Scraper

Youth Radio - March 25, 2019 - 6:00pm
BAY WORD OF THE DAY, STARRING MONEY MAKA, IS A VIDEO SERIES BREAKING DOWN BAY AREA SLANG.

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Categories: Blog

On Quality Higher Education: An Essay in Three Installments, Part 1

Howard Gardner - March 25, 2019 - 8:58am

by Howard Gardner and Wendy Fischman

Background: The Mellon Papers

Thanks to the generosity of several funders, including The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, over the last seven years we have had the privilege of studying non-vocational higher education in the United States. We originally called our study “Liberal Arts and Sciences in the 21st Century,” but, as a result of our 2000 interviews, we came to realize that the phrase “liberal arts and sciences” has little meaning for most constituents—and is often misunderstood. Still the phrase has considerable resonance within the higher education community. Indeed, as part of a recently undertaken much larger study of the sector, The Mellon Foundation commissioned several papers on the liberal arts, and these papers have now been posted here.

The papers, well worth reading, cover a range of topics: definitions of liberal arts (varied, needless to say); the history of liberal arts education in the United States (dating back to the seventeenth century); and the relationship between an education described as liberal arts and a survey of possible and desirable outcomes: vocational, financial, cognitive, social, civic, and artistic, both in the short run and over the course of a lifetime.

Perhaps not surprisingly—and appropriately, given that the wide-ranging Mellon study itself will unfold over the next several years—the papers raise provocative questions in lieu of providing reasonably definitive answers.

What do we know? Attending and completing college certainly raises one’s income over the course of a lifetime; the study of humanities is less lucrative (particularly in the short run) than the study of engineering, science, or the “hard” social sciences. Once one goes beyond financial payoff, however, patterns are difficult to discern. It’s hard to demonstrate—particularly to a skeptic—that a liberal arts education makes you smarter, a better thinker and communicator, a kinder, happier, more civic-minded person, or a more likely voter.

To reach firm conclusions, one must compare graduates of a liberal arts college to those who have graduated from a vocational or professionally oriented school, as well as those who went right to work after high school or who had some kind of a “gap” experience—ranging from a year to a decade or more. Such comparisons have a self-selection problem (with different kinds of students presumably choosing the respective route). Additionally, we don’t know whether desirable outcomes occur because of which individuals choose to go to college and which ones make it through to graduation, or because the “higher scorers” go to one kind of college rather than to another. Nor can we state with confidence whether positive outcomes occur in institutions that describe themselves as liberal arts, that require courses in the liberal arts, that mandate some sort of distribution requirement, and/or that showcase some other feature or combination of features. And of course it would be important to find out whether any documented outcomes persist—or perhaps emerge more powerfully—over a much longer period of time.

It’s a laudable goal of the much larger Mellon study to tease out which of these dispositions are causally related to completing a liberal arts education and which can be tied to certain programs at certain institutions or certain kinds of institutions. We hope that it will succeed! But even in this era of easily gathered and easily analyzed “big data,” it’s not a foregone conclusion that we’ll know in five years about the effects—or, less happily, the non-effects—of an education anchored in the liberal arts and sciences.

In the ensuing blogs, we present our own vision of a quality education in the liberal arts and address some of the challenges to this vision.

© 2019 Wendy Fischman and Howard Gardner

Categories: Blog

Why I Want to Talk About My Period — And a New Emoji Could Help

Youth Radio - March 25, 2019 - 8:00am

When I first got my period, I thought it was super cool. So did my friends. We had this attitude: “We were women now, and we wanted to flaunt it.” But a shame around our periods started to emerge, mostly through our conversations with teen boys.

The stigma around getting your period isn’t new. But there are signs opinions could be changing. Apple just announced that in the next iOS update, a period emoji will be released. It’s literally a droplet of blood.

And a movie about the fight against period stigma in a town in India, called “Period. End of Sentence.” won this year’s Best Documentary Short award at the Oscars.

There’s still a lot to overcome.

In the 1980s, a survey from tampon company Tampax showed that the majority of people found it unacceptable to talk about periods, even at home. More recently, a study from THINX, an underwear company, showed that 12 percent of women have been shamed by their families, and 10 percent by a classmate, when it comes to their periods, so it’s no surprise that 71 percent hide their pads or tampons when going to the restroom. From these studies, it appears the stigma starts at home and follows us through school.

In my experience, as the boys around me and my friends graduated from middle to high school but didn’t seem to mature, we definitely felt stigma around menstruation. Guys made comments like, “Oh, man, it’s that time of the month,” when we were angry or, “Ew, did I ask?” if we talked about it within earshot.

These comments have been a norm since I was in elementary school, when we had our first ever sex education class. Our teachers split us up into two groups, boys and girls, and gave us separate lessons. Girls were introduced to periods, while the boys learned about erections. 

My experience of isolated, gender-specific lessons on puberty is quite common, and studies have shown that a lack of comprehensive sex education for boys can harm women. The shaming that my female friends and I experienced fell into a weird cycle. Guys get grossed out when they know a girl is on her period, so she tends not to talk about it, and as a result, guys hear about it less and less in their daily lives. Our bodies became increasingly foreign to them. I even find myself hiding it from some of my closest guy friends, because it seems almost wrong to talk about in front of them. But now I’m pushing myself to talk about it more, even when I’m uncomfortable, because it’s natural.

My girlfriends and I are now pushing back against period stigma that we encounter. What happens when some random dude butts in on our conversations about our bodies? We’ll just yell at him to leave us alone. We’ve grown sick of this immaturity and the speculation about our private lives.

We are also actively normalizing conversations about periods amongst each other. We’re very open. We talk about cramps, cravings, the struggle of having to wear sweats for a week straight. We exchange pads and tampons when someone unexpectedly gets hit with their time of the month.

Though it may seem pretty minor, the introduction of this new emoji could destigmatize periods even further. It makes conversation between people online easier. Now imagine pulling up an image of a droplet of blood — a virtual symbol of menstruation — every time you open up your phone. Regardless of your gender or sexual orientation, you can click on that bloody emoji and send it in an instant. 

The post Why I Want to Talk About My Period — And a New Emoji Could Help appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Students Demand Action on Gun Violence

Youth Radio - March 25, 2019 - 12:15am

On the first anniversary of the March for Our Lives protest, students rallied at Capitol Hill and delivered letters to politicians to demand gun reform.

The post Students Demand Action on Gun Violence appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Why I’m Not Afraid to Talk About My Chronic Pain

Youth Radio - March 24, 2019 - 8:00am

I suffer from chronic pain. But my pain was invisible. So I was often greeted by disbelief.

Two years ago, I sprained my ankle. It didn’t completely heal. For months the pain got worse, until I was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome, a type of chronic nerve pain.

I spent the next eight months on crutches to give my foot room to heal.

During my rush-hour commute on BART, people were unwilling to give up their seats to a teenager, even one on crutches. They’d look down at my foot, then back up at me, questioning why someone my age would need the disability seating.

My pain therapist told me, “I see kids like you all the time.” She said that complex regional pain syndrome patients are most often teenage girls, like me.

While I’ve never met any, just imagining them makes me feel less alone.

Because even though the pain was bad, the isolation was even worse. I often asked why I was singled out to be living this nightmare. By speaking up about it now, I want to help ease the self-doubt and isolation that other chronic pain sufferers may feel.

The post Why I’m Not Afraid to Talk About My Chronic Pain appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

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