Fellow New Zealander and political scientist Bronwyn Hayward of the University of Canterbury recently shared this video presentation prepared for the Gibson Group and the RESOLVE Center at the University of Surrey. Both groups are interested in the effects of policy decisions in liberal democracies on the development of notions of citizenship among youth.
As Dr Hayward notes, resilient citizenship describes the ability of youth to develop and define themselves as efficacious advocates of their own needs and the common good. She identifies three seed principles essential to the development of capable young citizens:
- Social agency: the ability to organize and collaborate for the common good;
- Ecological education: a deep understand of the natural world and their place in it, particularly the forces that shape the future; and
- Embedded citizenship: a sense of the importance of individual action, personal responsibility and fairness.
The recent example of the University of Canterbury Student Association’s Volunteer Army, which mobilized 24,000 students through Facebook to help clear hundreds of thousands of tons of silt brought to the surface through the forces of liquefaction, illustrates these principles.
The UCSAmobilization demonstrated not just the efficiency of social media, but the importance of using it to leverage existing relationships among real people with common ties to a particular place. The willingness of the students to get involved rather than sit back and blame seismologists, geologists, civil engineers or political leaders for not preparing them for the effects of liquefaction or for clearing the residue quickly without their assistance reflected a keen understanding of the natural processes at work in the event. Finally, the way in which students identified the focus of their work and initiated action to complement the efforts of public officials by supporting the neediest residents and those least able to take care of themselves demonstrated a sound understanding of equity in action.