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Civic Blog

Welcome to the Civic Blog and what we hope will become an ongoing discussion between our bloggers and readers. Visit often, share your perspectives, experiences and suggestions, and help us build a “civic” community. We seek a national conversation on a broad range of topics including education, science, politics and religion. We are always looking for guest bloggers. Contact us at if you’d like to post your thoughts.

  • Anti-Intellectualism and the “Dumbing Down” of America

    By Ray Williams on May 22, 2015 in Civic Blog

    There is a growing and disturbing trend of anti-intellectual elitism in American culture. It’s the dismissal of science, the arts, and humanities and their replacement by entertainment, self-righteousness, ignorance, and deliberate gullibility. Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason(link is external), says in an article in the Washington Post, “Dumbness, to paraphrase the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, has been steadily defined downward

  • “Americans are Embarrassingly Ill-Informed”, but why?

    Given our recent blog post about “Why Hoosiers Don’t Vote” and the low scores in Civics on the most recent Nation’s Report Card Report it is easy to derive that Americans are uninformed and unengaged. Also, given the embarrassingly low 7% voter turnout in the Indianapolis primaries last week, it is clear this is not just a national issue.  Low

  • Why Hoosiers Don’t Vote

    By Sheila Kennedy on May 8, 2015 in Civic Blog

    The following post was originally published at on May 6th, 2015 and is republished here with the author’s permission. Yesterday, I took part in a “Pancakes and Politics” discussion hosted by the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce. There were three of us on the panel–yours truly, Beth White (former Marion County Clerk) and Abdul Shabazz (local radio personality and commentator/provocateur). Abdul has actually

  • National Assessment Governing Board Releases 2014 Nation’s Report Card in Civics, History, and Geography.

    On Wednesday the National Assessment Governing Board announced results of the Nation’s Report card, and let’s just say the result are less than thrilling.  Read below for a statement from National Advisory Committee Member, Ted McConnell who runs the Campaign for Civic Mission of Schools. Statement of the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools on release of the ‘Nation’s

  • Partisan and Economic Cues Fail to Help Low-Information Voters Choose the Correct Presidential Candidate

    By Aaron Dusso on April 24, 2015 in Civic Blog

    Every major election in the U.S. produces a steady drumbeat of calls from scholars and interested observers for a solution to the problem of citizens’ political apathy. Turnout is abysmal and thoughtful individuals want to fix it. However, this focus on turnout overlooks the fact that democratic governance does not simply rely on participation. It relies on quality participation. Theorists

  • What Millennials Consume on Facebook.

    By Jeffery M. McCall on April 17, 2015 in Civic Blog

    The good news is that nearly 90 percent of recently surveyed millennials say they get news off Facebook. The bad news is that most of those social media users stumble into the “news” only when they go to the site for other purposes. Worse yet, what these millennials are getting as news from social media sites wouldn’t constitute news in

  • Democracy in Action

    By John Guy on April 10, 2015 in Civic Blog

    Voting in elections is not related to public policy, such as to The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the new Indiana law which gave greater legal protections to businesses that refuse service out of religious belief. Or is it? Let’s take a look. Over four days in April, Indianapolis Star columnist Matthew Tully wrote columns criticizing Governor Pence and The Indiana General

  • Defending Reason in an Unreasonable Time.

    By Sheila Kennedy on April 3, 2015 in Civic Blog

    Last Friday, I delivered what the University calls “the Last Lecture.” The idea is that the scholar chosen to deliver the lecture shares lessons based upon his/her life experience and scholarship. In lieu of my usual “Sunday Sermon”–and with apologies for its length–here is the speech I delivered, which was titled: DEFENDING REASON IN AN UNREASONABLE TIME. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________ I’m immensely

  • Obama seen as “enemy” of press freedom.

    By Jeffery M. McCall on March 27, 2015 in Civic Blog

    This message was posted on Twitter recently by a prominent member of the media: “The Obama Administration is the greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation.” Another tweet from this source read, “I plan to spend the rest of my life fighting to undo the damage done to press freedom in the United States by Barack Obama and (Attorney

  • The Issue of Transparency

    By John Guy on March 18, 2015 in Civic Blog

    “Transparency” or lack thereof, is a lever of opponents. “Public scrutiny” is a plausible impossibility, a tool of critics, an impossible dream that is practical only through extraordinary labor of interested citizens.  Scrutiny is time consuming because contract language is detailed, complicated and long.  Even journalists find contracts daunting and difficult to explain in limited space. From the Patient Protection

  • Social Media and the First Amendment

    By Jeffery M. McCall on March 9, 2015 in Civic Blog

    Social media is a crazy world, indeed, sparking firestorms over petty things, such as the color of some dress in Scotland. Most social media posts connect people to ideas, news, fun and each other. There is, however, a dark and demented corner of social media where posters threaten and scare individuals. That leaves law enforcement with the challenge of sorting

  • To test or not to test?

    By Sheila Kennedy on January 21, 2015 in Civic Blog

    I used to introduce my undergraduate Law and Public Policy class by administering a test–20 questions drawn from the citizenship test immigrants have to pass in order to become U.S. citizens. I stopped because it was too depressing. Foreign students regularly passed the test; native-born students just as routinely failed it. So I’ve been intrigued by the recent effort to

  • America is Doomed

    By Sheila Kennedy on January 8, 2015 in Civic Blog

    Before the incident–and attendant snark–went viral, no fewer than three friends had sent me news items about Kirby Delauter, a Frederick County (Maryland) Council Member, who threatened to sue a local journalist named Bethany Rodgers for … wait for it… using his name without permission in a newspaper article. Think about that for a minute: this jerk is an elected official. Presumably he

  • The Rolling Stone rape story debacle

    By Jeffrey M. McCall on December 29, 2014 in Civic Blog

    Journalism enters dangerous territory when reporters look to tell “stories” that are more dramatic, more sensational and more confrontational than what is provided by real life. Rolling Stone magazine found this out with its recent, misguided story about sexual assault at the University of Virginia. Sexual assault is, indeed, a concern on college campuses, and perpetrators need to be caught.

  • What is liberal?

    By John Guy on December 18, 2014 in Civic Blog

    “Why are television dramas always ‘liberal,’” asks a friend. “Not true,” I say, and soon recant, because I cannot recall a drama that is ‘conservative.’ What is going on? The answer reveals a lot about the human condition and civic interaction. A definition of “liberal” is “open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values,” to which