April 24, 2014

Civic Engagement

UF's civic dialogue project is raising questions

| 11/11/2011

The Wall
The aim of the project is to foster dialogue among a broader and younger spectrum of citizens, creating interest in civic life. [Photo: Andrew Innerarity/Content Creators]
Inside the University of Florida's red-brick Pugh Hall, questions posed on a 44-by-26 inch interactive wall engage students in civil debate. A recent question: "Has our federal government done enough to create jobs?"

Eighteen students voted yes; 23, no.

Among the "no's," Sara Eileen wrote: "The government needs to focus on ways to regain local jobs that have moved due to increasing globalization."

Travis countered: "Yes! Per-job-saved spending on the stimulus was $280,000 — that's enough."

The screen is part of the latest project of Jake Barton, a New York digital designer who created the interactive component for NPR's StoryCorps project, as well as that for the recently opened National September 11th Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center site.

Ann Henderson
Ann Henderson
The Civil Debate Wall was launched this fall by UF's Bob Graham Center for Public Service, whose mission is to encourage college students to become public servants. The idea is to foster dialogue about and expand the audience for the most critical issues facing Florida and the nation, says Ann Henderson, the center's executive director. In the 2010 elections, only 8% of Floridians under 30 voted. "Voting is a key measure of civic health," says Henderson. "But when you look at those numbers, it's clear that the State University System is not, in a deliberate way, saying 'How can we ensure our students are prepared for citizenship?'"

The interactive wall is the pilot in a project that is funded as part of a $3-million civics innovation grant by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. If it shows promise, the center plans to expand the project throughout campus and the Gainesville community. "Gainesville is a great place to try it out," says Henderson. "But then we should be out there — in Orlando and Naples and Miami and beyond."

Tags: Northeast

Digital Access

DIRECT DIGITAL ACCESS
Add digital to your current subscription, purchase a single ditgital issue, or start a new subscription to Florida Trend.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
An overview of the features and articles in this month's issue of Florida Trend.

ACCESS THIS ISSUE »

Florida Business News

Florida Trend Video Pick

Rising Tide Car Wash
Rising Tide Car Wash

John D’Eri co-founded the Rising Tide Car Wash to show what his son and others on the autism spectrum can accomplish. Click video to view and see our profile here.

Earlier Videos | Viewpoints@FloridaTrend

Ballot Box

How quickly must we act to protect Florida's dying springs?

  • Immediately - Florida's House and Senate must pass SB 1576
  • Not a priority - issue can be postponed
  • This shouldn't even be on the agenda

See Results

Ballot Box
Subscribe