Sangita Shrestova and I were teaching a graduate course on Civic Media this spring, but between the transition to online teaching and — more profoundly — the local and global changes we’re experiencing, we collectively decided to adapt our focus and embark on a collaborative effort to explore what’s happening in the civic media space during the pandemic. Unlike some forms of traditional scholarship where the researcher places themselves outside the object of study, we are embracing our role as participant observers. After all, none of us can escape the moment in which we are living and this interconnectedness seems especially important for how we respond now…and where we go from here. We are hopeful that turning the tools and lenses we are developing toward this unique moment is one way we can contribute to understanding it and supporting a healthier and more sustainable future.
With that incipient vision and charge firmly in mind, our class has agreed to simply dive in, learning as we go, adjusting our approach in the process. Borrowing from the tech world, call it rapid prototyping. We’ll share early observations and reflections, identify questions, see where our approach delivers — and breaks — and adapt from there. Naturally, your thoughts are most welcome as we navigate this difficult and also dynamic period.