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Current Project List

 Electing Our Future: A Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise

In 2015,  the Center for Civic Literacy (CCL) convened a group of partners to sponsor a series of community forums to offer Marion County residents an opportunity to learn more about navigating Indianapolis’ governing structures and to recognize the impact of local government on their daily activities.  The primary goal of the forums was to increase informed engagement in the civic life of our city, including voting in the November 2015 election and greater citizen participation and volunteering between elections.

Download the Summary Report.

Personality Traits and the Ability to Understand and Engage in Politics

The project by IUPUI professor, Aaron Dusso, includes a book manuscript that examines the relationship between the Big Five personality traits (Extroversion, Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Emotional Stability, and Openness to Experience) and the average democratic citizen’s ability to understand and engage in politics. Aaron will do this through an examination of individuals’ ability to understand an abstract concept like ideology; their knowledge of political facts in the areas of healthcare, energy policy, same-sex marriage, food stamps, and drug testing welfare recipients; their ability to connect their own personal policy preferences to the correct political party in these same five issue areas; and, finally, their susceptibility to being policy hypocrites, e.g., benefiting from government programs like the home mortgage interest deduction, white being against more visible welfare programs like food stamps.

Center for Civic Literacy Annotated Bibliography

A list of research on civic literacy from the perspective of various disciplines. More interdisciplinary research is needed in how civic deficits affect many aspect of American life. The Annotated Bibliography is a tool for researchers to begin to explore civic implications outside of their comfort zone.

Download, here.

Civic Knowledge in Social Work: A Tool for Advocacy?

Professor Heather McCabe’s research explores the use of social workers to activate vulnerable and underrepresented populations to have a voice in governance and organizational systems. She is working on an exploratory study which seeks to answer two key questions related to the civic knowledge of social work students.

  • What is the current level of civic knowledge and engagement of social work students?
  • Does knowledge and engagement vary by students’ attributes, including demographic (age) and educational characteristics (e.g., overall educational attainment and courses attended with civics content)?

Future studies will examine methods of civic knowledge transmission within the social work community and to vulnerable populations.  The impact of this knowledge on voice and participation will also be explored.

IUPUI’s Research Day

Every year the campus of IUPU holds research day, “Research Day provides an opportunity for the IUPUI faculty, staff, and students, and their academic, industrial, governmental partners, and the broader community, to come together and learn more about the research enterprise at IUPUI, explore new collaborations, and lay the foundation for new partnerships.”  For the past two years the Center for Civic Literacy has updated on our work via an abstract and poster.

See past projects:

2014 Research Day Poster

2015 Research Day Poster

Public Use of Government Data to Enhance Civic Participation and ‘Crowdsource’ Problem-solving

Over the next year, Professor Cate will study efforts to make sizable amounts of non-classified US federal, state and/or local government data available and usable by the public, and the extent to which these efforts are or are not (a) raising awareness about how government works and what it does, (b) improving the quality and quantity of both civic literacy and public participation in lawmaking and public administration, and (c) enabling individuals and communities to “crowdsource” or otherwise develop solutions to public policy and public administration problems, at the local and state levels in particular.

Her project will involve identifying and cataloging the following:

  • the current universe of such sites (including a comprehensive look at how many states and localities are putting their own data sets online);
  • site activities including the provision of tools that allow easy comprehension and analysis of the data to help bridge documented gaps in e-government activity by the less well educated or data literate; and
  • site participants across a spectrum of demographics.

The project will also develop metrics for measuring the success of such sites in achieving the aims described above and factors that may constrain success, in an effort to assess how much and how well these sites contribute to civic literacy, public participation in lawmaking and public administration, and problem-solving through civil society mechanisms or other nongovernmental frameworks for action, and what the results suggest for further institutional investment in such efforts.