21C: Unique Location for 21st Century Civic Education: Youth and their Adult Allies in the "Third Space"

It is widely recognized that healthy character development in youth is a critical process that leads towards successful adulthood and greater civic participation. The growth of an adolescent’s character is often the subject of urgent discussion and studies. Young people, especially those in under-resourced communities, are viewed as morally deficient (not engaged, selfish) because of a commonly held belief that is reinforced by popular media.


At ZeroDivide we seek to elevate an idea that culturally appropriate learning environments enable young people, regardless of their level of resources, to develop strong characters. These distinctive environments can be found in the “third space” (not home, not school) where they gain exposure to social justice frameworks, access digital production technologies, and receive support from skilled adult allies. The third space offers youth an opportunity to become capable and committed advocates for their communities. 


ZeroDivide will facilitate a discussion with experts and practitioners that explores the unique intersection of character development and digital media spaces, tools, and practices. We recognize the value of the “third space” for youth that serves as an innovation hub for learning and civic education. Innovative practices in the third space are found in the crucial roles of adult allies (educators, youth development specialists, artists) who provide technical skills and serve as mentors/guides. 


This panel will highlight how organizations use digital media to create effective learning environments and high impact pedagogical practices that enhance young people’s development and their civic participation. 


Finally, our panel will discuss with the audience some of the continuing questions that affect this work. We will conduct real time polling to learn the popular views and recommendations.  


The group questions will include:

  • What is the appropriate level of guidance and influence that adult allies should take in getting youth to leverage their social capital toward civic and social justice outcomes?
  • What professional standards (i.e., media production, journalistic, leadership) should  youth be held to? 
  • What are the critical inquiry paths that young people should (must) pursue on their way to adulthood? 


Reels Grrls, Seattle, WA - The Disability Media Justice Program

A digital literacy and production curriculum engages community youth with and without disabilities to utilize a disability justice framework. This leading edge curriculum has been spearheaded by a program alum who is a disability advocate with cerebral palsy.


Access Humboldt, Eureka, CA – The Real Life Research Lab

In one of the most remote locations in northern California, Access Humboldt’s youth utilize Wi-Fi enabled video cameras to research and document access to broadband and news/information in their surrounding area that includes tribal lands. 


Center for Multi-Cultural Cooperation - Fresno, CA

 Spy Hop - Salt Lake City, UT


Ruth Williams
McCrae Parker
Brett Hanover
Maile Martinez
Brandon Wright
Kasandra VerBrugghen