Critical Democracy Literacy

Why does Critical Democratic Literacy matter?

Have you ever felt frustrated because you felt your voice or your community's voice wasn't being heard, or felt that your elected representatives weren't representing your interests, or felt intimidated or overwhelmed by the way politics work? Have you ever struggled through political and social discussions or debates with others who think differently from you? Have you ever felt that an issue was important to you, but you had no idea how to begin to address it? Developing your Critical Democratic Literacy is important because it empowers you and give you the tools and skills needed to make change happen in your community and in the world.

Below are some of the ways in which we help support students, like you, to develop their Critical Democratic Literacy.

Critical Democratic Literacy Series

Group of Students smiling for the camera

The critical democratic literacy series is a new initiative aimed at increasing students' knowledge of how government, activist movements, and other democratic systems and structures function in order to encourage those students to engage and participate in those systems and structures. Each session will consist of a presentation, workshop, or discussion that provides information, resources, and/or tools to navigate democratic processes and institutions such as government, lobbying, student government, social movements, running for office, etc. Sessions will also be a vehicle for students to explore their individual and collective knowledge, resources, and power through written reflection and discussion.

Please check back for more information about upcoming sessions!

Mock Voting

The purpose of a non-partisan mock election is to familiarize students with the voting process so that they gain the knowledge and confidence needed to comfortably participate in every election.  Often times college students vote for the first time while on campus. It is our hope that students will discover not only that their priorities are valued, but also that every vote is a voice heard.

Please check back later for more information about upcoming Mock Voting events!

Vote Power: High School Voter Registration Drive

High School Students in class actively participating

Vote Power: High School Voter Registration Drive aims to empower young voters (both high school seniors and college students) by inducting them in the voter registration process and educating them in the importance of voting. We work closely with local high schools, the Washoe County School District, and the Washoe County Registrar of Voters office to train college students in the registration process and to register high school seniors. If you're an educator and are interested in having us visit your high school, please contact Gaby Ortiz Flores. If you're a UNR student and are interested in volunteering for Vote Power: High School Voter Registration Drive, please check GivePulse for upcoming drives.

What is Critical Democratic Literacy?

According to Drs. Kathryn Obenchain and Julie Pennington, "Individuals who possess CDL are those who are knowledgeable about democracy as a concept, and who demonstrate their civic virtue by committing to engage in civic and political life in ways that support democratic ideals for all residents of the nation." Obenchain and Pennington argue that Critical Democratic Literacy is important because it allows students to be fully empowered and fully active citizens - citizens who can challenge powerful institutions, inequitable policies and laws, and outdated traditions. Students who develop CDL are able to critically and resiliently examine their own views and the views of others - they have the capacity and the desire to enter into civil discourse and engage in community problem-solving. Ultimately, citizens who possess CDL understand how political and civic systems work and can navigate those systems in order to improve their communities.

Source: Obenchain, Kathryn, and Julie Pennington. Educating for Critical Democratic Literacy: Integrating Social Studies and Literacy in the Elementary Classroom. London: Routledge, 2015.