These answers should be deeply grounded in the literature. I want to hear your assessment, but I
also want you to demonstrate that you have a good handle on what scholars have concluded
about these topics. Be sure to draw on the various readings, on class lectures, and on the
videos/movies and associated materials that we have shared and evaluated this year. Finally, do
not write these as if you are answering a prompt that I have written; they should be stand-alone
essays that anyone could pick up and read.
Part I. Short Essays (4 pages). Answer ONE of the following.
A. After the recent 2016 presidential election, some liberal pundits quickly blamed youth for
their lack of participation at the polls. As experts on youth political engagement, you
probably are not surprised by this effort at scapegoating young people. But is it fair?
Describe, characterize and evaluate the claim that youth are apathetic about electoral
politics. Explain the history of youth voter turnout over the decades. What are the key factors
that are associated with voting among youth? Are these the same factors that influence
older adults? What do the lessons of research suggest are the best ways to get young
people to participate? How do the 2018 elections add to our understanding of youth
B. College campuses can be hotbeds of political action, not just in movies, but on real-live
campuses all over the country. Describe, characterize and evaluate contemporary college
activism. What kinds of issues are engaging youth today? How do these issues compare
(which means how are they both similar and different) to what has motivated college
students in the past? Given what you know about the past political engagement of college
students, what are the key factors associated with successful movements? What are the
obstacles to success? Finally, are there elements of campus politics that give you cause for
C. A common theme throughout the profiles of youth activism has been the role of storytelling
and narrative. Describe the ways in which youth have used written and oral narratives in
political ways, using specific examples. How do they fit into new participatory politics and
citizenship orientations (these are separate, but related theories)? How would you evaluate
the success of various groups? (You do not need to cover every group in depth, but you
should discuss at least two different groups in detail, using others as they fit.)
Part II. Long Essay. (5 pages). Answer ONE of the following. (Both of these questions are
asking you to think about how we teach young people to be political engaged, from two
slightly different angles. Make sure you address that key issue.) The best answers will
ground their answers in a normative framework, which will serve to justify the approach
A. What is the state of high school civic education (writ large, not just formal instruction)
today? What kind of citizenship are we teaching and how is this citizenship frame affecting
the way we structure our civics curriculum? What kind of citizenship should we teach?
What are the challenges to creating quality civic experiences for youth? What are some of
the issues and challenges associated with teaching political engagement in high schools? If
you had the power over high school civics, what reforms would you institute?
B. Some scholars who study youth political engagement argue that programs designed to
encourage youth activism cannot simply focus on project development but instead need to
incorporate intentional efforts to develop purpose, or promote liberation philosophies, or
emphasize social justice. Describe these various approaches and their core tenets. Using
examples from your service work, others’ service projects, and programs and projects
described in readings throughout the quarter, critically assess the notion that these
normative components are key to the creation of meaningful youth political engagement.
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