Sunday, November 30, 2008

Can Universities Become Networked Publics?

Writing about youth and new media, Ito and colleagues use the term "networked publics" to
"describe participation in public culture that is supported by online networks" (Ito et al., Living and Learning with New Media, 2008, p. 10). The authors note,
Rather than conceptualize everyday media engagement as “consumption” by “audiences,” the term “networked publics” places the active participation of a distributed social network in producing and circulating culture and knowledge in the foreground. The growing salience of networked publics in young people’s everyday lives is an important change in what constitutes the social groups and publics that structure young people’s learning and identity" (p.10)
So I find myself asking, "are universities places in which young people (those not attending the university) can "participate in producing and circulating culture and knowledge?" There are some examples of individual faculty who are engaged with young people and with the public in culture and knowledge. Henry Jenkins immediately comes to mind with his work on fan culture and various media analyses. However, his scholarly interests coincide with popular culture so that seems too obvious. I am particularly interested in natural and social scientists. Are there chemists, biologists, psychologists, family scientists, adolescent developmental scientists who are developing ways to engage young people?

I haven't done an in-depth search, but I don't see this work. Am I missing this? Are we missing ways to engage young people in developing their thinking about math and science by not presenting this world in ways that allow their active participation?

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