RIC to participate in a nationwide social media research project

Looking for innovative ways to use emerging technology to engage and inform the today’s student - who is already heavily immersed in the digital world - the American Democracy Project (ADP), has initiated a nationwide project to research the use of social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs, for civic engagement.

Rhode Island College will be the only college in the state to participate in the project called, “eCitizenship: New Tools, New Strategies, New Spaces.”

Michelle Brophy-
Participating in this project gives RIC the opportunity to join with other colleges and universities to discover new ways in which social media can be used to further engage the campus and surrounding community.

The social media project “eCitizenship,” begins in November with the founding of an institute hosted by the Center for the Study of Citizenship at Wayne State University. According to an AASCU press release, the institute will provide a forum for selected eCitizenship campuses to collaborate on studies of the transformative relationship between social networking and civic engagement, to determine effective methods for preparing students.

Michelle Brophy-Baermann, assistant professor of political science at RIC, will attend the forum at Wayne State University in November as RIC’s lead representative for the project, along with two RIC students. Brophy-Baermann said the project will enable RIC students, faculty and staff to better understand how to utilize new technologies to foster informed and engaged citizens.

“Our students lead incredibly busy lives, but some of them are already using social networking media to encourage others to get involved on campus, in the community, and throughout the world at large,” said Brophy-Baermann.

Valerie Endress
Valerie Endress, ADP coordinator and associate professor of political communications at RIC said,” This is one project in which students are in the forefront, and we're going to look to them for guidance.”

Endress said, “Not only in Rhode Island, but across the country college students are discussing and debating, informing and persuading, as well as recruiting and retaining a solid core of members for their causes, all outside of traditional modes of communication. The task for higher education is to understand the power of this new medium and harness some of its energy for engaging the campus community.”

Over the years, RIC has implemented other ADP initiatives to enhance the civic life of RIC students and the surrounding community including the campus-wide “Open Books-Open Minds” program and the first-in-the-nation statewide DebateWatch.

ADP is a multi-campus program that began in 2003 as an initiative of The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), in conjunction with the New York Times. ADP is focused on higher education’s role in graduating citizens who are actively involved in their communities.