Increasing Rural Civic Engagement in the Digital Age | 2017 RFI-funded research & engagement project


Music What we’re trying to accomplish with this project is in an empirical way, kind of see what the impacts are in rural communities How can rural communities benefit from leveraging digital platforms in order to increase civic engagement? Again the conversation is circling around urban areas, and I believe rural have a lot to gain as well. This project is about rural civic engagement. It’s about using social media as a tool inside these communities to make new opportunities happen. The current context moves quickly. There are issues that are time sensitive And if you rely on your traditional methods, you might not be responsive enough. But, more importantly, it is about listening to all sectors of your residents, not just a particular type that tends to show up to town hall or city hall meetings. I think in this day and age that people are looking for more than just to read something in a newspaper, especially the younger generation. So this will help get a lot of younger people involved in local government. For us to really connect and engage at a community level, we have to leverage broadband, we have to leverage the ability to understand what measurement tells us about social media. As a student it is really important to be able to practice the things that we’re learning in class. So having that experience is really important for students, even later on as they apply for jobs. And as they get into their career, they’ll have that experience behind them to draw from. I think we’re going to have very significant impact. We will be able to document that these communities, before and after the intervention, are more responsive And because of that, I think that we can turn around and replicate this model or lessons learned to other rural communities. And then, hopefully, the conversation will not only gravitate towards urban, and we can have a an empirically-sound case study saying, “It worked.” I think this aligns in a lot of ways to make the community stronger, and in the longer term to make Nebraska stronger because these best practices can be used by other communities going forward.

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