Other Group

Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

Website:

circle.tufts.edu/

Founded:

2001

Parent Organization:

Tufts University

Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) is a research program at Tufts University. It uses its research to advocate for voter engagement by individuals under the age of 30. [1]

CIRCLE advocates for lowering the voting age to 16 in local elections. Its research has also been used to draft state civics education curriculum, most notably through Florida’s Sandra Day O’Connor Act. [2] [3]

Background

The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement is a research program that was founded in 2001 at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy. In 2008, CIRCLE became a project at Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life. [4]

CIRCLE performs research on issues that it argues concern young people to motivate them to become involved in democratic processes. [5] Its website lists values that it claims dictate what research it performs, which align with the identity-politics concept of intersectionality by arguing different groups of people are in greater need of social welfare due to alleged marginalization of certain communities. [6]

Advocacy

The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement’s research was used to advocate for and create the 2010 Sandra Day O’Connor Act, which created civic education courses and tests that are mandated in the state of Florida. It also helped design how the courses would be implemented. [7] [8]

CIRCLE published a survey in January 2017 regarding civic engagement by young people and their perception of the state of democracy in America. The results were used by numerous lawmakers to draft legislation, expanding civics education. Massachusetts used CIRCLE’s work to decide how to allocate its funding for social studies programs and gave priority to so-called “under-resourced communities” under the guise of “equity.” [9] [10]

In the decade leading up to 2020, CIRCLE used its research to advocate for education policy that targets schools in lower-income districts to provide additional focus on civics education to increase voter-turnout in those communities. This led to the creation of Democracy Schools and Guardians of Democracy, which are online civics education courses that have been adopted by the state of Illinois and are offered nationally to increase voter turnout in rural and lower-income communities. [11] [12]

In 2022, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Nikema Williams (D-GA) introduced the Youth Voting Rights Act and cited CIRCLE’s research in the bill. The bill would increase voter registration and polling sites, expand the list of accepted voter identifications, and require the government to collect voter data. [13]

Associated Organizations

The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement is a partner organization of Alliance for Youth Action. They work together to increase voter turnout, particularly among ethnic minorities and younger people, arguing that both groups are underrepresented among voters. [14]

In 2013, CIRCLE created the Teaching for Democracy Alliance and has since led the project. [15] Teaching for Democracy Alliance partners with K-12 educators on how to teach about democratic processes and advocate for voter participation. [16]

References

  1. “Circle at 20 – Tufts University.” Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement . Tufts University. Accessed November 7, 2022. https://circle.tufts.edu/sites/default/files/2022-01/CIRCLE_at_20_report.pdf. ^
  2. “Impact and Accomplishments.” Circle at Tufts. Accessed November 7, 2022. https://circle.tufts.edu/about/impact-and-accomplishments#leading-the-way-for-civic-education-reform. ^
  3. “Circle at 20 – Tufts University.” Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. Tufts University . Accessed November 7, 2022. https://circle.tufts.edu/sites/default/files/2022-01/CIRCLE_at_20_report.pdf. ^
  4. “About.” CIRCLE. Accessed November 7, 2022. https://circle.tufts.edu/about. ^
  5. “About.” CIRCLE. Accessed November 7, 2022. https://circle.tufts.edu/about. ^
  6. [1] “Our Values.” Circle at Tufts. Accessed November 7, 2022. https://circle.tufts.edu/about/our-values. ^
  7. “Making Civic Education Reform Work: The Florida Partnership for Civic Learning.” Circle at Tufts, March 23, 2015. https://circle.tufts.edu/latest-research/making-civic-education-reform-work-florida-partnership-civic-learning. ^
  8. “Circle at 20 – Tufts University.” Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement . Tufts University . Accessed November 7, 2022. https://circle.tufts.edu/sites/default/files/2022-01/CIRCLE_at_20_report.pdf. ^
  9. Wertheimer, Linda K. “If We Want Democracy to Endure, Shouldn’t We Know Something about It? – The Boston Globe.” BostonGlobe.com. The Boston Globe, October 1, 2019. https://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2019/10/01/want-democracy-endure-shouldn-know-something-about/rw8OilgT0TyYBa31ok8RlM/story.html. ^
  10. “Circle at 20 – Tufts University.” Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement . Tufts University . Accessed November 7, 2022. https://circle.tufts.edu/sites/default/files/2022-01/CIRCLE_at_20_report.pdf. ^
  11. “Final Report on the Illinois #Civicsisback Civic Education Initiative.” Circle at Tufts, December 2, 2020. https://circle.tufts.edu/latest-research/final-report-illinois-civicsisback-civic-education-initiative. ^
  12. “Circle at 20 – Tufts University.” Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement . Tufts University . Accessed November 7, 2022. https://circle.tufts.edu/sites/default/files/2022-01/CIRCLE_at_20_report.pdf ^
  13. [1] “Impact and Accomplishments.” Circle at Tufts. Accessed November 7, 2022. https://circle.tufts.edu/about/impact-and-accomplishments#leading-the-way-for-civic-education-reform. ^
  14. “Circle at 20 – Tufts University.” Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement . Tufts University . Accessed November 7, 2022. https://circle.tufts.edu/sites/default/files/2022-01/CIRCLE_at_20_report.pdf. ^
  15. “Impact and Accomplishments.” Circle at Tufts. Accessed November 7, 2022. https://circle.tufts.edu/about/impact-and-accomplishments#leading-the-way-for-civic-education-reform. ^
  16. “Teaching for Democracy Alliance.” TEACHING FOR DEMOCRACY ALLIANCE. Accessed November 7, 2022. http://www.teachingfordemocracy.org/. ^
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