Recapturing the Public Space: Federalist #10 and the Salutary Role of Civic Engagement
With the abandonment of citizenship and the study of geography by the U.S. public educational system, Americans have increasingly ceded the public and political space to corporate media and the U.S. government. The author believes that this historic trend violates fundamental principles on which the American federal republic was founded. He draws on a seminal essay in early American political thought (Federalist #10) to examine what is necessary in such a republic to prevent centralization of the public space. Based on this examination, he suggests that, among other initiatives, it is necessary to re-introduce in the U.S. educational system a close study of American political structures and of the world in general, that is, to enhance the geo-political literacy and civic engagement of American students. The author describes his efforts to do this through in-class, cross-class, and cross-institutional discussions (oral and written) among students, both in person and on the internet.
Keywords: Civic Engagement, Federalist #10, Geo-political Literacy, Two-year College
Prof Robert King
Assistant Professor, Political Science, Georgia Perimeter College
France. Other trips include two years in Peace Corps (Morocco), a year in Romania (Fulbright), and six months in Italy (wife’s Fulbright). Shorter trips include several stays in Morocco and Tunisia for research; brief European jaunts; and two weeks in China (where he got married).
When he started teaching, he realized that geography and citizenship seemed to have been abandoned in the American educational system. He has made it his primary goal in teaching to increase his students’ understanding of, and participation in, the public sphere in the U.S. and in the world. He does this by having them teach each other through a close study of current events over time, through discussion of these events, and through sharing of these discussions with other students by outreach, both in person and over the internet.
He also works to expand their ability, through language learning and travel, to understand communities outside their own experiences.