Renewing Democracy in Young America

Renewing Democracy in Young America

by Daniel Hart, James Youniss


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With a government plagued by systemic ills and deep ideological divides, democracy, as we know it, is in jeopardy. Yet, ironically, voter apathy remains prevalent and evidence suggests standard civic education has done little to instill a sense of civic duty in the American public. While some are waiting for change to come from within, trying to influence already polarized voters, or counting down the days until the "next election," leading child and adolescent development experts Daniel Hart and James Youniss are looking to another solution: America's youth.

In Renewing Democracy in Young America, Hart and Youniss examine the widening generation gap, the concentration of wealth in pockets of the US, and the polarized political climate, and they arrive at a compelling solution to some of the most hotly contested issues of our time. The future of democracy depends on the American people seeing citizenship as a long-term psychological identity, and thus it is critical that youth have the opportunity to act as citizens during the time of their identity formation. Proposing that 16- and 17-year-olds be able to vote in municipal elections and suggesting that schools create science-based, community-oriented environmental engagement programs, the authors expound that by engaging youth through direct citizen-participatory experiences, we can successfully create active and committed citizens.

Political scientists, media commentators, and citizens alike agree that democratic processes are broken across the nation, but we cannot stop at simply showing that our political system is dysfunctional. Refreshingly lucid and unabashedly hopeful, Renewing Democracy in Young America is an impeccably timed call to action.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780190641511
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 12/29/2017
Pages: 184
Sales rank: 785,239
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Daniel Hart, EdD, is Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Faculty Director of the Institute for Effective Education at Rutgers University. Hart's research focuses on adolescent development in context. He has studied the development of civic life, including political knowledge, volunteering, social trust, and activism as well as the effects of different kinds of neighborhoods on personality and moral development. Currently, Hart is providing the technical and professional assistance for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Next Generation of Community Leaders initiative, which funds youth-led community development projects in communities throughout New Jersey.

James Youniss, PhD, is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the Catholic University of America, Washington, DC. He has studied children's and youth's normal development for 57 years. His most recent research focuses on political and civic development looking at activities and experiences that cultivate youth's identities as political-civic members of society.

Table of Contents


1. Young America and Democracy

2. Parties, Voters, and Interest Groups: The Current State of American Politics

3. Youth and Opportunity

4. Education for Citizenship

5. Civic Life through Environmental Engagement

6. Lower the Voting Age and Increase Participation

7. Civic Development in the 21st Century


About the Authors


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