School of Education News

UW-Madison’s Hess takes part in ‘Democracy at a Crossroads’ summit in Washington, D.C.

September 26, 2017

UW-Madison’s Diana Hess took part in a national summit on Sept. 21 titled, “Democracy at a Crossroads: Our Nation’s Future Needs Innovative Civic Learning Now!”

The event took place in Washington, D.C., and was designed to raise awareness about civic learning issues and showcase promising solutions to make the case that resources are needed to expand proven practices.

State of our Democracy panel
Judy Woodruff (left-to-right), anchor of 'PBS NewsHour,'
moderated a panel discussion that included School of
Education Dean Diana Hess, Danielle Allen and Daniel Stid.
Hess is dean of the School of Education and holds the Karen A. Falk Distinguished Chair of Education. Hess took part in a panel discussion moderated by Judy Woodruff, anchor of the “PBS NewsHour,” that was titled, “State of Our Democracy: What’s at Stake.”

A preview of the session explains how “in a time of increasingly balkanized public discourse, weakening civic institutions, and unequal civic engagement, our republic faces a crisis. Coming of age in this caustic environment, Millennials are losing faith in American democracy. Significant proportions of young Americans live in ‘civic deserts’ where they can report few or no opportunities to meet, discuss issues, or address problems. Schools could help, but states’ education policies do not sufficiently mandate or support civic learning as part of the K-12 curriculum, and limited funding has blocked innovation. The result? Increasing polarization, distrust, low rates of voter turnout, and low scores of civic knowledge.”

Panelists also included: Danielle Allen, director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and the James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University; and Daniel Stid, director of the Madison Initiative, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

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