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Engagement Lab launches Civic Media Project

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Emerson College’s Engagement Lab, in collaboration with MIT Press, has launched the Civic Media Project (CMP), an online collection of more than 100 case studies from around the world that explore the intersection of media, technology, and engagement in civic life. The CMP has already attracted more than 17,000 page views in the first two weeks of its release.

MihailidisCivic media is a growing field of study around the adoption or invention of new technologies with the intentionality of social, political, or cultural change. “Participating in a human rights rally, creating and sharing a video online about unfair labor practices, and connecting with neighbors after a natural disaster are all civic actions where the individual seeks to benefit a perceived common good,” said Paul Mihailidis, associate director of the Engagement Lab. “But where and how civic life takes place is an open question.”

The case studies making up the CMP feature leading scholars and practitioners across the world collectively defining the civic media space. The studies are organized into sections about creativity, design practices, education, and activism. Examples include: “ARTiVIS: Appropriating Surveillance Technology for Environmental Awareness and Protection” by Mónica Mendes and Pedro Ângelo, “Implication of social media on electoral participation in India” by Pallavi Guha, and “Youth Data Literacy as a Pathway to Civic Engagement” by Erica Deahl. New cases will be added on a regular basis.

Gordon“As the definition of civic life is in flux, there is urgency in defining and questioning the mediated practices that compose it,” said Eric Gordon, director of the Engagement Lab. “The Civic Media Project is intended as a living resource. Most importantly, the CMP is meant to be a place for conversation and debate about what counts as civic; what makes a citizen; what practices are novel; and what are the political, social, and cultural implications of the integration of technology into civic lives.”

To help foster this conversation, the CMP features an open peer review system to build critical dialog into the case studies. The project’s contributors have written in-depth reviews of others’ contributions, and all readers are invited to comment on cases and respond to reviews to help them come alive through discussion and debate.

The CMP also includes a robust learning guide that 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.

The CMP is part of a larger initiative in civic media that will complement the upcoming release of Engagement Lab’s edited anthology, Civic Media: Design, Technology, Practice, to be published by MIT Press in early 2016. The anthology will feature chapters by major contributors in the field of civic media. The goal of the book is to reach across traditional disciplines, including sociology, policy, urban planning, political philosophy, computer science, communications, and art, to identify an emerging field of knowledge and practice that has shared problems, methodologies, and theories.

About the Engagement Lab   

The Engagement Lab is an applied research lab at Emerson College, focusing on the development and study of games, technology, and new media to enhance civic life. The Lab works directly with its partner communities to design and facilitate civic engagement processes, augment stakeholder deliberation, and broaden the diversity of participants in local decision-making. For more information, visit

About MIT Press             

The MIT Press is a university press affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). MIT Press publishes about 200 new books a year and more than 30 journals. It is a major publishing presence in fields as diverse as architecture, social theory, economics, cognitive science, and computational science, and has a long-term commitment to both design excellence and the efficient and creative use of new technologies. Its goal is to create books and journals that are challenging, creative, attractive, and yet affordable to individual readers. For more information, visit

About Emerson College    

Located in Boston, Massachusetts, opposite historic Boston Common and in the heart of the city’s Theatre District, Emerson is the only four-year private college in the United States devoted to teaching communication and the arts in a liberal arts context. The College has 3,750 undergraduates and 750 graduate students from across the United States and 50 countries. Supported by state-of-the-art facilities and a renowned faculty, students participate in more than 90 student organizations and performance groups, 14 NCAA teams, student publications, honor societies, television stations including the Emerson Channel, and WERS-FM, the nation’s highest rated student-run radio station. Emerson is internationally known for its study and internship programs in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., the Netherlands, China, and the Czech Republic. A new permanent facility on Sunset Boulevard for its LA-based program opened officially in March 2014. For more information, visit

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